Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Ex-Yanks minor leaguer Vazquez traded by Tigres to Diablos

The Quintana Roo Tigres are beginning to make some moves under new owner Fernando Valenzuela.  One recent deal involved sending first baseman Jorge "El Chato" Vazquez to Mexico City for catcher Gabriel Gutierrez in a swap of players who've battled injuries in recent seasons, but who've been effective when healthy.

Vazquez, who turns 35 next month, was one of the Mexican League's leading sluggers between 2005 and 2008, belting 99 homers for the Tigres in that four-year span and batting .323 or better each season.  His performance resulted in a minor league contract with the New York Yankees, for whom the Culiacan product spent three summers from 2009-11, hitting 63 homers in that timespan (including 32 longballs with 93 RBIs for AAA Syracuse in 2011).  However, Vazquez also showed a tendency to strike out, whiffing 166 ties in 500 plate appearances in 2011, and he was surprisingly released in April of 2012 after the Yanks brought in Steve Pearce to play first base at Syracuse that season.

Since returning to Cancun in 2012, the 5'11" right-handed batter has battled a variety of ailments ever since, playing no more than 62 games in any season over the past five years.  He hit .319 with six homers and 31 RBIs in 33 games for the Tigres in 2016.  In fifteen Mexican League seasons, Vazquez has knocked out 193 homers to go with a .317 career average, and the Diablos Rojos hope he'll be able to be the cleanup hitter they've lacked since Japhet Amador went to Japan's Rakuten Golden Eagles last year.

For his part, Gutierrez will never be mistaken for Vazquez in the batter's box, but he was once a highly-regarded catching prospect in the Dodgers system.  Signed by Los Angeles at age 21 in 2005, the Guasave native was Baseball America's Prospect Handbook pick as the best defensive catcher in the Dodgers system in 2007.  However, the injury hex had already started affecting Gutierrez' career and he ended up playing just 282 games over six seasons in five leagues (including a cup of coffee with AAA Las Vegas), batting .249 with six homers and 93 RBIs before heading back south of the border following his release in early 2010.

Hooking up with the Diablos Rojos in 2010, Gutierrez has continued his pattern of providing solid work behind the plate when he's physically capable of putting on the gear.  He played a career-high 101 games for Mexico City in 2014, hitting an eyebrow-raising .356 that year (with a .419 on-base percentage) and scoring 71 runs for the Red Devils.  His seven-year LMB batting average has been a solid .311, but he's only played 374 games since 2010 for an average of 53 games per year.  It's hoped in Quintana Roo that the 33-year-old Gutierrez will be able to form a catching tandem with 35-year-old veteran Iker Franco, who hit .310 in 73 games for the Tigres in 2016.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Culiacan GM Padilla sacked, Tomateros players complain

Anyone who's read Jim Bouton's classic "Ball Four" is aware that ballplayers don't often hold general managers in high esteem.  While Bouton's lampooning of Seattle Pilots GM Marvin Milkes was just one reason that got him into considerable hot water with the baseball establishment, it's fairly common knowledge that an adversarial relationship can develop between a professional athlete and the person who ultimately determines their salary (especially in the era prior to free agency).

That's why the response of a dozen Culiacan Tomateros players, many of them current or former major leaguers, in the wake of the team's firing of general manager Ray Padilla (pictured) raised so many eyebrows last week.  Padilla spent twelve winters in the GM's chair for the Tomateros before being let go after the season.  Although original owner Juan Manuel Ley built the Mexican Pacific League team into one of the country's top baseball organizations from the late 1960's until his death a year ago at age 82, Ley's family successors at the helm of the team ultimately grew frustrated with Padilla's lack of on-field success this season after the club, which won the MexPac's first-half title before dropping off in the second half and being eliminated in the playoff semifinals.

With Culiacan hosting the Caribbean Series earlier this month, much pressure was placed on Padilla to bring the Tomateros a pennant and berth in the CS.  The results of impatient ownership led to manager Lino Rivera's firing after a slow start to the second half (remember, this is the team that WON the first half title), replacing him with veteran skipper Enrique "Che" Reyes, who'd been coaching in the organization.  When Reyes failed to bring the team a flag, Padilla's fate was all but sealed despite an LMP pennant and a Caribbean Series title game berth just two years ago under his watch.

A terse February 18 statement from the Tomateros office said, "Continuing with the process or re-engineering our club, it is announced that Mr. Reymundo Padilla is leaving his position of Sports Manager."  Padilla's ouster brought on an unusual reaction of support from his former players days later, as no less than twelve Tomateros jugadores signed a formal statement protesting the move and sent it to the press.  Here is a translated version of that letter:

Due to what happened last week, in which the Culiacan Tomateros Baseball Club reported that Mr. Ray Padilla stopped being the Sports Manager, the players of this organization want to express our feelings about it.

In the years that Mr. Padilla was in charge of the sports management of this club, he managed to form a great harmony in the group of players that today make up the roster of the Tomateros team of Culiacan. That is why we are very upset the news. Ray, as we all call him, had a unique work ethic, always showing us his support in good and bad.

We feel a great disappointment inside this group of players. We understand that the owners make their decisions, but many times they do it without consulting those inside the team, doing things that may damage the organization in the future.

We want to show our support to Ray, thanking him for all his support throughout these years in which we had the opportunity to work with him.

Without more to add, we said goodbye, even with this news and very hurt by the decision that was taken by the directors, which we do not agree with.

Among the twelve players who signed the statement are pitchers Oliver Perez and Hector Daniel "Danny" Rodriguez, infielders Oscar Robles, Luis Alfonso Cruz and Ramiro Pena, and outfielders Ronnier Mustelier and Joey Meneses. Perez, Robles, Cruz and Pena all have MLB experience (Perez, a Culiacan native, is entering his 15th big league season), Rodriguez is one of Mexico's top left-handed pitchers and Mustelier and Meneses were two of the Tomateros' top hitters this season.

Padilla's replacement in Culiacan has not been determined.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Gallardo named WBC opener starter; will Adrian play?

With the 2017 World Baseball Classic less than two weeks away, Mexican National Team manager Edgar Gonzalez has announced his five-man starting rotation for the tournament, which will see the Verdes Grande open their Pool D schedule in Guadalajara with a March 9 game against Italy at Estadio Charros.

Gonzalez has named Yovani Gallardo, Miguel Angel Gonzalez, Jaime Garcia, Luis Mendoza and Jorge De La Rosa as his pitching starters.  All have significant major league experience.  Gallardo, Gonzalez and Garcia are currently on 40-man MLB team rosters, De La Rosa recently signed a minor league deal with the Diamondbacks and Mendoza is prepping for his fourth season with the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters of Japan's Pacific League.  The Fighters are training in Arizona this month.

The 30-year-old Gallardo is the expected starter for Mexico's opener against Italy.  A 2010 All-Star while pitching for Milwaukee, Gallardo was traded by Baltimore to Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto's merry-go-round in Seattle after going 6-8 with a 5.43 ERA for the Orioles in 2016.  After ten MLB seasons, the 6'2" Gallardo has a career 108-83 record, including 72 wins for the Brewers between 2009 and 2013.  Although he's not likely to pick up a bat in the WBC, the 2004 second-round draft pick for Milwaukee wouldn't be out of place doing so.  He's come up to the plate 476 times in his big league career and while his .200 average won't turn any heads, the right-hander's 12 homers and 42 RBIs have shown he was anything but an automatic out for opposing moundsmen.

He'll face an Italian team that is not a pre-WBC favorite to advance beyond Pool play but could surprise observers in Jalisco next month.  While manager Marco Mazzieri will not have the services of Chicago Cubs All-Star first baseman Anthony Rizzo for the tournament after the latter opted to play preseason games in Arizona instead of the WBC (he hit .235 in the 2013 tourney), Italy's roster includes Cubs minor league outfielder John Andreoli as well as Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli, Royals receiver Drew Butera, Mariners switch-pitcher Pat Venditte and Indians first baseman Chris Colabello.

While Gonzalez has his starting rotation set and a strong bullpen featuring the likes of Roberto Osuna, Yoakim Soria and Oliver Perez, the former Padres infielder continues to plug holes among his position players.  After A's outfielder Khris Davis backed out of playing for Mexico earlier this week, Gonzalez' latest alteration came after infielder Daniel Castro pulled out of the WBC because he wants to concentrate on making the Colorado Rockies roster.  Castro signed with the Denver club as a free agent over the winter after the 24-year-old Guaymas native hit .217 over 80 games with Atlanta in 2015 and 2016 after callups from AAA Gwinnett.

Castro will be replaced on Mexico's roster by 19-year-old infielder Luis Urias, a Padres minor leaguer.  Although the slight (5'9" and 160 pounds) Urias is a longshot to reach San Diego this year, the big club has high hopes for him after he was named Rookie of the Year in the Class A California League last summer after batting .330 to lead the league, adding 26 doubles and 71 runs scored for Lake Elsinore. He's primarily been a second baseman in three minor league seasons, but is expected to see a lot of time at shortstop in training camp.  Urias is said to likely be heading to Class AA San Antonio of the Texas League.

Gonzales did receive some needed good news this week when younger brother Adrian's tennis elbow, which has limited him in the Dodgers' camp thus far, has improved enough the the All-Star first baseman is more likely to be in the Mexican lineup at the WBC.  "El Titan's" participation in the Classic as a player was in doubt after the Los Angeles organization told him to lay off swinging a bat for two weeks, but the longtime linchpin of the Verdes Grande lineup is said to be more likely to be in Guadalajara in two weeks.  With bats in tow.
*     *     *

On an unrelated note, one infielder who definitely would've been a boon to Mexico's WBC fortunes in his prime was Aurelio Rodriguez, the late former MLB infielder regarded by many as the best third baseman in his country's history.  A member of Mexican baseball's Salon de la Fama since 1995, Rodriguez spent all or part of 17 big league seasons as one of the top glove men in the game with a throwing arm that Tigers broadcaster Paul Carey called a "howitzer."  Rodriguez died at age 52 when he was struck by a car while walking a sidewalk during a visit to Detroit for a card show in 2000. Weird fact:  Of the three major league players who've had the first name of Aurelio (Rodriguez, Lopez and Monteagudo), all three played for the Tigers and all three were killed in car accidents.

Aurelio Rodriguez' body was brought to Los Mochis, where he had played winterball for the Caneros, and thousands attended his funeral, including Mexican president Ernesto Zedillo.  His remains were interred at Estadio Emilio Ibarra Almada, where his cross still stands atop the ballpark.  Rodriguez' loss was also felt in Detroit, where he'd been an extremely popular player, often venturing into the inner city to conduct clinics.  Fred Feliciano, a one-time community relations manager for the Tigers, has been quoted as saying, "He was really the first prominent Hispanic figure in the Detroit community."

Fast forward to 2017.  In his "En la Pelota" column for Puro Beisbol, columnist Juan Vene says that Rodriguez' tomb now lies in ruins.  According to Vene, politician Mario Lopez was behind the effort to place the Cananea product's remains behind the fence in the ballpark's right field corner.  Lopez then neglected it thereafter (not even visiting the site) and no maintenance has ever been performed on it.

It's easy to say this as I write from a location much closer to Canada than Mexico, but Aurelio Rodriguez deserves better.  Heroes should never be forgotten, especially where thousands once cheered their exploits.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

LMB Assembly of Presidents make nice, approve new owners

The Mexican League's Assembly of Presidents met Friday in Mexico City in a gathering that was apparently without rancor, a welcome relief from the at-times open warfare among two factions of teams over the winter that threatened to split the circuit in two or even shut the 92-year-old LMB down for 2017. This time, however, it was smiles all around the 16 teams represented and reinstated league president, Plinio Escalante, whose resumption of that role was unanimously ratified after Minor League Baseball president Pat O'Connor made it clear at a meeting in Houston weeks ago that MiLB would not accept anyone else behind the Liga's big desk.

Among the order of business was the approval of new owners for the Quintana Roo Tigres, Leon Bravos and Monclova Acereros as well as a thumbs-up for last weekend's fifty-percent purchase of the Monterrey Sultanes by Grupo Multimedios. Former Dodgers All-Star pitcher Fernando Valenzuela was confirmed as the new majority owner of the Tigres after buying the club from Carlos Peralta a week ago. Although other members of his ownership group are still unidentified (leading to speculation in some quarters that the State of Quintana Roo is acting as a "silent partner" in the Cancun team), Valenzuela was announced as the Tigres' chairman of the board. Francisco Villanueva will serve as executive vice president while son Fernando Valenzuela Junior is the executive chairman and general manager of the flagship franchise.

Left out in the cold was longtime Tigres executive president Cuauhtemoc "Chito" Rodriguez, who served as eyes and ears for Peralta (who is not a baseball fan) after the latter's father, Alejo, passed away in 1997 and helped direct the Tigres to eleven Mexican League pennants in three different cities after another 19 seasons and two flags with the Nuevo Laredo Tecolotes. The younger Valenzuela, a former first baseman who attended UNLV and went on to bat .328 in nine LMB seasons, does not appear to have any prior experience running a pro baseball team.

As for the Bravos, the former Reynosa Broncos were officially handed over to new owner Arturo Blanco, a Leon businessman who will also serve as the team's chairman of the board. Former owner Mauricio Martinez will stay on as executive president. The approval of Puebla Pericos owner Gerardo Benavides as the new owner in Monclova was little more than a reaffirmation of a sale first agreed to during the winter, as Benavides has already been putting his stamp on the team.

The situation in Monterrey came as a bit of a surprise, starting with the timing of the announcement of the sale late last Sunday after all the attention that day went to Valenzuela and the Tigres. As its name suggest, Grupo Multimedios is a business dedicated to promoting sports and entertainment in northern Mexico and Latin America in general. They're expected to provide a cash infusion for Sultanes' longtime owner Jose "Pepe" Maiz, who has struggled a bit at the helm of the team in recent years despite strong attendance totals at the 26,000-seat Estadio Monterrey, Mexico's largest ballpark and the scene of Major League games in past seasons. Maiz will remain as team president while Multimedios' Guillermo Gonzalez Elizondo will serve as vice president.

Other items dealt with were the formalization of the no-limit policy on Mexican-American players (another O'Connor edict) and approval of a system of instant replay reviews of umpire calls among teams televising their games while the presidents got a start on putting together a schedule for an upcoming season set to open in five weeks.

The scheduling process has been hampered by ballpark renovations in the Liga's newest cities, Leon and Durango, which both got off to late starts and will not be completed by the beginning of the season. As a result, only the first week of the season has been scheduled, with 14 of the 16 LMB teams opening their home slates while the Bravos and Generales play their first six games on the road. The 2017 Mexican League All-Star Game will be played later than usual, with this year's edition set for the weekend of July 16-18 at Campeche's 6,000-seat Estadio Nelson Barrera. The ballpark was named after the former slugging third baseman who died tragically in 2002 while managing the Piratas when the beloved Barrera, nicknamed El Admiral by fans, was electrocuted at home that July while working on the house's wiring.

The following is the LMB's opening week schedule for 2017:

March 31-April 2 Monclova at Mexico City
Saltillo at Tijuana
Durango at Aguascalientes
Laguna at Monterrey
Leon at Puebla
Veracruz at Oaxaca
Tabasco at Campeche
Quintana Roo at Yucatan

April 4-6
Mexico City at Saltillo
Aguascalientes at Laguna
Monterrey at Monclova
Durango at Tijuana
Leon at Oaxaca
Puebla at Veracruz
Yucatan at Tabasco
Campeche at Quintana Roo

Friday, February 24, 2017

Benavides shifts four ex-MLBers from Puebla to Monclova

Ever since the Cleveland Spiders' disastrous 1899 National League season (you can Google it), Major League Baseball has not allowed so-called "syndicate ownership" of franchises in which more than one team can be owned and controlled by the same owners.  That has not been the case south of the border, as no less than three ownership groups control two teams apiece.

One of those is Gerardo Benavides, the owner of the 2016 Mexican League champion Puebla Pericos who completed the purchase of the Monclova Acereros earlier this month.  Although Benavides can't yet be compared to the Robison brothers, he's taking a similar path in transferring players from his pennant-winning team to Monclova, located in his home state of Coahuila.  No less than four key members of the Pericos, all former big leaguers, were released by Puebla during the offseason, only to re-emerge with the Acereros:  Outfielders Nyjer Morgan and Willy Taveras, first baseman Daric Barton and closer Chad Gaudin will all be performing under new Acereros manager Wally Backman this summer.  A hyper-competitive sort who undoubtedly bristled regularly at edicts from farm directors telling him to to play (and for how long) during his seasons managing in the Diamondbacks, White Sox and Mets organizations, Backman should have no such problems as long as he lasts with the Acereros.

The most recognizable of the four, the 36-year-old Morgan (pictured) hit .306 with 11 homers and 22 steals in 101 regular season games for Puebla last year.  Morgan was a career .282 batter in seven MLB seasons for four teams between 2007 and 2014 before a ten-game stint in Korea in 2015.  Taveras batted .274 over seven big league seasons, leading the National League with 68 steals for Colorado in 2008.  The 35-year-old hit .325 for the Pericos in 2016, stealing 16 bases.  Barton, 31, hit .247 (with a .356 on-base percentage) in 551 games for Oakland from 2007 and 2014 and topped American League batters in walks with 110 in 2010.  Although he was never regarded as a power hitter before coming to Mexico, Barton swatted 20 homers for Puebla last season after hitting a total of 30 over eight MLB campaigns.  Like Barton, Gaudin spent time in Oakland during a somewhat nomadic 11-year stretch in the majors, compiling a 45-44 record and a 4.44 ERA for nine teams between 2003 and 2013.  The 33-year-old righty came out of retirement last year to post a 1.64 ERA with 33 saves for Puebla, striking out 48 of the 185 batters he faced.

One of the top pitchers in the Mexican League the past two seasons, Josh Lowey, is back in Monclova after having a rough time of it following a midseason move to Korea's KT Wiz.  Lowey was the Liga's Pitcher of the Year in 2015 for the Acereros, going 13-6 with a 3.06 and leading the circuit with 145 strikeouts in 142.2 innings.  He was off to an even better start last year, leading the LMB in all three pitching Triple Crown categories with 13 wins, a 1.65 ERA and 131 whiffs in 16 starts for Monclova before leaving for the Far East in early July.  Things didn't go as well for the 32-year-old Floridian in the KBO, where he ended up with a 3-5 mark and a 6.22 ERA in eleven starts for the Wiz.  He'll be rejoined in the Monclova rotation by fellow All-Star pitcher Jose Oyervides, who finished at 10-2 with a 2.78 ERA for the Acereros in 2016, striking out 120 batsmen in 102.2 innings.  Needless to say, Monclova is an early LMB North favorite this season.

As for the Pericos?  Besides losing the four aforementioned players to Monclova, last year's Playoff MVP, Travis Blackley (another ex-MLBer), has signed with Detroit while former White Sox hurler Deunte Heath has hooked on with Cincinnati.  Puebla recently signed their first foreign player for 2017, outfielder Cole Gillespie.  The 32-year-old Oregon native spent all or part of six seasons in The Show, including 41 games with Miami last year (where he hit .235).  In all, Gillespie is a career .251 hitter over 221 MLB games for six teams.  There may be more help on the way to the colonial city, but defending their pennant will be awfully difficult with so many important pieces of last year's champions gone.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Davis bows out, "El Titan" questionable for Mexico in WBC

One aspect of the World Baseball Classic that the event's critics rarely fail to bring up is that a nation's best baseball players are often made unavailable to represent their country in the WBC, either because their major league organization wants to withhold their services during spring training or because the player himself does not want to jeopardize his chances of making a big league roster if he's considered on the fringe.  Injuries are also a concern, of course, no matter what the MLB organizations or players have in mind.

Two of the expected power sources for Mexico's 2017 World Baseball Classic squad may end up being scratches next month for Pool D play in Guadalajara.  Oakland outfielder Khris Davis, who khrashed 42 homers for the A's last summer, has pulled out of the WBC altogether while Dodgers first baseman Adrian "El Titan" Gonzalez may have to sit out his fourth Classic after coming down with tendinitis in his right (non-throwing) elbow during winter training.

Davis, whose 42 roundtrippers helped him drive in 102 runs in 2016 after a slow start in which he was hitting just .222 with 5 homers on May 22 before picking up the pace the rest of the season.  The Cal State-Fullerton product, whose mother Sonia was born in Mexico before coming to the USA at age 4, expressed remorse at his withdrawal from the WBC.  "I'm not going to be able to do it due to some timing issues," the San Jose Mercury News quoted Davis as saying.  "I feel kind of overextended personally.  You take on a lot.  It's days away.  May main focus is this organization.  I feel this year I want to get off on the right foot this year..."

"I feel horrible about it.  I feel terrible.  At the same time, I have to be here."

On the other hand, Gonzalez' decision may be predicated on his physical fitness more than a desire to get off to a better start. The five-time All-Star first sacker, who hit .285 with 18 homers and 90 RBIs for Los Angeles last year, says he first noticed a twinge in his elbow two months ago.  "It's tennis elbow from jsut working out," Gonzalez tells's Ken Gurnick, "too much hitting and too much boxing.  I felt it while working out in early December and it didn't seem like much, but it hasn't gone away."  Gonzalez has been shut down from swinging a bat for two weeks.  Although he's been one of the most durable first basemen in baseball, playing in at least 156 games in each of the past eleven years, the 34-year-old career .290 hitter (308 homers, 1,146 ribbies) may need to miss the WBC to continue resting his elbow after representing Mexico in 2006, 2009 and 2013.

Mexico manager Edgar Gonzalez, Adrian's brother and former teammate in both Mazatlan and San Diego as well as with the Verdes Grande, will have to adjust his lineup even before their first game.  Losing Davis left him with three outfielders on the roster: Chris Roberson, Jose Juan Aguilar and Alex Verdugo.  Efren Navarro, a former Angels first baseman who hit .275 with seven homers splitting 126 games between AAA Tacoma and Memphis last year, can play the outfield, but it's likely Gonzalez will replace Davis on the roster with a regular outfielder.

Replacing Adrian Gonzalez would prove an impossible task.  Although the aforementioned Navarro has MLB experience at first base, the call might go to the mountainous Japhet Amador, the 6'4" 330-pound El Gigante de Mulege.  Amador, the 2015 Mexican League MVP when he hit .346 with an LMB-topping 41 homers and 117 RBIs in 103 games, will be playing his second season in Japan in 2017 with the Rakuten Golden Eagles.  In an injury-nagged 2016 debut in the Pacific League, Amador hit .258 with nine homers and 19 RBIs in just 39 games.  The big fella is more nimble than one would expect and has made himself into a decent fielder at first base, but he doesn't compare to the four-time Gold Glove-winning Gonzalez.

Losing Gonzalez would mean more than losing Mexico's best ballplayer, as if that wouldn't be enough on a standalone basis.  For ten years, El Titan and Edgar helped form the heart and soul of the Verdes Grande lineup and clubhouse, so losing even one of them would leave a hole in the team that can't be quantified by hardware or sabermetrics.  However, there are 22 million rea$on$ why Adrian Gonzalez may have to beg off from playing in his fourth Classic and I can't blame him.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Twenty-six Mexican players in MLB spring training camps

Although the Caribbean Series concluded Mexico's four-month winterball season less than two weeks ago, pro baseball is only now stirring to life north of the border as Major League Baseball organizations open spring training camps in Florida and Arizona this month.  There are 26 Mexican players scattered among 15 big league teams, including ten non-roster invitees.

Fifteen of the 25 are in National League camps.  The Los Angeles Dodgers have four Mexicans training with the big club while the San Diego Padres have three among 16 MLB teams with at least one Mexican player in camp.  Left-handed pitcher Jorge De La Rosa (pictured above), who'll turn 36 on April 5, signed with Arizona this weekend as a free agent after a nine-year stint with the Colorado Rockies, for whom he went 86-61 between 2008 and 2016, winning 16 games twice and 14 once.  De La Rosa is the Rockies' all-time wins leader while going 53-20 record at Coors Field. De La Rosa signed a minor league contract with the Diamondbacks, but has been invited to the team's major league camp.

Chicago White Sox - RHP Miguel Angel Gonzalez
Kansas City Royals - RHP Joakim Soria
Los Angeles Angels - LHP Manny Banuelos*
New York Yankees - RHP Luis Cessa, RHP Giovanny Gallegos
Seattle Mariners - RHP Yovanni Gallardo, C Sebastian Valle*
Texas Rangers - RHP Eddie Gamboa
Toronto Blue Jays - RHP Marco Estrada, RHP Roberto Osuna

Arizona Diamondbacks - Jorge De La Rosa*
Atlanta Braves - LHP Jaime Garcia
Cincinnati Reds - OF Sebastian Elizalde*
Colorado Rockies - IF Daniel Castro*
Los Angeles Dodgers - 1B Adrian Gonzalez, RHP Sergio Romo, LHP Julio Cesar Urias, OF Alex Verdugo*
New York Mets - C Xorge Carrillo*, RHP Fernando Salas
Philadelphia Phillies - RHP Victor Arano*
San Diego Padres - IF Luis Urias*, RHP Cesar Vargas, 3B Christian Villanueva*
Washington Nationals - RHP Rafael Martin, LHP Oliver Perez
*-Non-roster invitee

One more Mexican in a major league camp is former utility infielder Tony Perezchica, a Mexicali native making his debut as a third base coach in Arizona under new manager Torey Luvollo.  Perezchica hit .228 in 69 games over parts of four seasons with San Francisco and Cleveland between 1988 and 1992.  A Giants third round draft pick in 1984, the 50-year-old Palm Springs HS grad has been coaching and managing in the D-Backs system since 2004.

Perezchica becomes the first major league coach born in Mexico since the legendary Ben "Cananea" Reyes (pictured left) spent the 1981 season as the Seattle Mariners' third base coach after being brought north by M's skipper Maury Wills, under whom Reyes had coached in Hermosillo during the 1970-71 Mexican Pacific League season.  Reyes unofficially became the first Mexican to manage an MLB team after Wills was suspended two games in 1981 for having the batter's box altered before a game at the Kingdome.

Reyes lost his April 28 debut in Minnesota, 4-1, as Richie Sisk's fifth inning homer was the only blot on Pete Redfern's five-hitter for the Twins.  The two teams battled to a rare 7-7 tie on April 29 as rain halted play in the bottom of the eighth inning at old Metropolitan Stadium.  Reyes has never officially received credit for filling in for Wills, who was fired a week after returning to the Mariners dugout.  Reyes stayed the rest of the season under new Seattle manager Rene Lachemann.

Reyes had more success managing at home, winning five Mexican League pennants managing the Mexico City Red Devils after winning a flag with Jalisco in 1971.  He also managed four Mexican Pacific League champions (three in Hermosillo) and took Caribbean Series titles with the Naranjeros in 1976 and Mexicali in 1986 for the only CS crown the Aguilas have won.  Reyes died in late 1991 at age 54, and was elected to Mexican baseball's Salon de la Fama the following year.