Friday, November 27, 2009

FERNANDEZ LET GO BY DIABLOS, INTERESTED IN VERACRUZ JOB

Winning a pennant in 2008 and turning in the Mexican League’s best record this year apparently wasn’t enough to save Daniel Fernandez’ job as manager of the Mexico City Diablos Rojos. Fernandez has been let go after what ordinarily would be considered two extraordinarily good seasons as skipper of the team he starred on as a player for over 20 seasons.

As a rookie manager last year, Fernandez led the Red Devils to a 66-39 record and their first pennant in five years (the team’s 15th flag since 1956). In 2009, Mexico City came in with a Liga-best 70-35 regular season record, but stumbled in the first round of the playoffs by losing a seven-game shocker to the Laguna Vaqueros, who were in their first postseason since 2003.

The Veracruz native is said to be interested in managing the LMB Veracruz Aguilas, who finished the 2009 season with a 51-56 record and missed the playoffs. While Fernandez says he hasn’t spoken with Veracruz chairman Jose Antonio Mansur, he’d like to have a conversation about landing a job with the Red Eagles.


As a player, Fernandez spent 25 seasons in the Mexican League, 24 of them with the Diablos. He retired fourth on the all-time hits list with 2,648 safeties (batting .313 lifetime), and is third in career stolen bases with 478 swipes.

DESSENS GETTING READY FOR DEBUT WITH HERMOSILLO

Pitcher Elmer Dessens, who declared himself a free agent after getting into 28 games for the New York Mets last summer, is preparing to be added to his hometown Hermosillo Naranjeros roster for their LMP series this weekend in Culiacan. Dessens, who turned in a 3.31 ERA with no decisions for Mets manager Jerry Manuel in a relief role after spending part of the season with Class AAA Buffalo, tossed 40 pitches in a simulated game last week.

The 38-year-old righty has pitched for nine teams in his 13-year major league career, winning 21 games for Cincinnati between 2000 and 2001. Dessens, who has pitched for Mexico in both the 2006 and 2009 World Baseball Classics, says he’d like to be a starter in Hermosillo. He was 2-1 with a 1.91 ERA in seven starts for the Naranjeros last winter.

CAMPILLO SIGNS WITH ROYALS, RETURNS TO MEX PAC

Right-hander Jorge Campillo has signed a free agent contract with the Kansas City Royals and will spend the winter pitching for the Culiacan Tomateros. Campillo parlayed an outstanding 2004-05 Mex Pac season with the Tomateros into a deal with the Seattle Mariners in 2005. That winter, Campillo went 10-1 and led the LMP with a 2.05 ERA after a number of mostly average summers pitching for the Angelopolis Tigres of the Mexican League.

However, Campillo has been beset by arm injuries since being signed by the Mariners, who traded him to Atlanta in 2008. He was 8-7 with a 3.91 ERA for the Braves that year, but only pitched five games for Atlanta this year (1-0 and 4.15) before rotator cuff surgery ended his season early. The Braves offered the 31-year-old a contract for 2010, but Campillo turned it down and chose to sign with Kansas City, where he hopes to have a chance to start.

It’s likely that he’ll be in the starting rotation for Paquin Estrada’s Tomateros, who finished last in the recently-concluded first half.

1) HERMOSILLO NARANJEROS (5-1/.833/0.0GB)

Hermosillo is off to a great start in the second half, winning 5 of 6 games. The Naranjeros opened by taking 2 of 3 in Mexicali. Nelson Teilon went 4-for-5 with a homer and 3 RBIs in an 8-3 win over the Aguilas Nov. 20, followed two days later by a 10-7, 10-inning win as Luis Alfonso Garcia and Geronimo Gil whacked homers.

The Orangemen then swept 3 at home against Mazatlan, outscoring the Venados by an aggregate 26-11 margin. Garcia hit two more homers in the opener, giving him an LMP-high 15 roundtrippers for the season.

2T) CULIACAN TOMATEROS (4-2/.667/1.0GB)

Culiacan is bouncing back from a last place finish in the first half, taking 2 0f 3 games against both Mazatlan and Mexicali. Mike Cervenak had a great series against the Venados, batting 6-for-11 with two doubles, 4 runs and 4 RBIs. Hector Rodriguez tossed 7 shutout innings in a Tomateros 4-1 win on Nov. 21.

Then Culiacan registered back-to-back shutouts over potent Mexicali. Andres Meza started in a 5-0 Nov. 25 victory, and Rodriguez pitched 7 more scoreless frames Nov. 26 in a 2-0 whitewashing of the Aguilas.

2T) OBREGON YAQUIS (4-2/.667/1.0GB)

Obregon put 25 runs on the board in sweeping a Nov. 22 doubleheader in Navojoa, then took two more games at home against Los Mochis to finish the week tied for second. Carlos Valencia had 2 doubles, a homer and 6 RBIs in the twinbill with the Mayos, while John Mayberry Jr. and Erubiel Durazo each homered.

Durazo then homered in the first 2 games against Mochis as the Yaquis won by 7-1 and 3-1 scores. Obregon stretched Game 3 to 12 innings before losing, 6-5, despite Agustin Murillo’s homer.

4T) LOS MOCHIS CANEROS (3-3/.500/2.0GB)

Los Mochis evened their second half record at 3-3 with a Nov. 26 win in Obregon. The Caneros won 2 of 3 over Guasave to start the week before dropping their first 2 to the Yaquis. Sandy Madera had a pair of 3-hit games against the Algodoneros, and still tops LMP batters with a .442 average, 72 points ahead of the rest of the pack.

Madera, Saul Soto and Sebastian Valle have combined for 34 homers, ranking 2-3-4 behind Hermosillo’s Garcia. Madera leads or is tied for the Mex Pac lead in seven offensive categories.

4T) NAVOJOA MAYOS (3-3/.500/2.0GB)

Navojoa rebounded from a 1-3 start by posting a pair of wins to end the week at .500. Javier Martinez threw 6 strong innings in a 2-0 shutout against Obregon before the Yaquis bombed the Mayos in a Nov. 22 doubleheader.

After losing a 7-4 contest in Guasave Nov. 24, the Mayos racked up 12-3 and 9-5 wins the next 2 nights. Reid Gorecki put on a show in those games, going 4-for-8 with 2 homers, 5 runs and 7 RBIs. Christian Zazueta had a 5-for-5 night Nov. 26 to crack the LMP’s Top Ten with a .326 average.

6T) GUASAVE ALGODONEROS (2-4/.333/3.0GB)

Guasave had their problems with Los Mochis and Obregon, losing 2 of 3 to both sides. The Algodoneros droped their first 2 in Mochis (despite a 4-for-9 showing with 2 doubles for Eduardo Arredondo) before pulling out a 4-3 win Nov. 22 as Benji Gil cracked a homer for the victors.

Guasave then won their opener with Navojoa, 7-4, on Nov. 24 as Francisco Mendez was 3-for-4 with a double, scoring 1 run and driving in 2. Mendez homered in the Cotton Pickers’ 9-5 loss to the Mayos on Nov. 26.

6T) MEXICALI AGUILAS (2-4/.333/3.0GB)

Mexicali rocked Hermosillo and Culiacan for 30 runs before being shut out by the Tomateros 2 nights in a row. Oswaldo Morejon went 3-for-4 with 2 runs and 3 RBIs in a Nov. 21 win over the Naranjeros, while Roman Pena and Adam Rosales combined for 5 RBIs in the Aguilas’ 11-7 win in Culiacan Nov. 24.

The Eagles have 4 of the Mex Pac’s top 10 hitters, so what’s the problem? How about a pitching staff that let in 32 runs in 6 games last week, including 20 by Hermosillo? Hardly fatal, but sometimes hitting won’t carry you.

8) MAZATLAN VENADOS (1-5/.167/4.0GB)

After a tremendous first half, Mazatlan had a disastrous first week in the second half, losing 5 of 6 games. The Venados won their opener over Culiacan, 8-2, as Pablo Ortega went 8 innings en route to his league-leading 6th win. After that, it was 5 losses in a row (including a sweep in Hermosillo) by an average score of 8-4.

Ortega remains on top of the LMP tables with a 2.16 ERA to go with his 6-1 record, but the Venados now trail Hermosillo in team ERA by a 3.66 to 3.71 margin. No other Mex Pac pitching staff is below 4.39.

MEXICAN PACIFIC LEAGUE Results (11-20-09 through 11-26-09)

FRIDAY, November 20
Los Mochis 3, Guasave 2
MOC-Juan Pena 7IP/0R/5H, Saul Soto 1-4/2RBI; GSV-Marshall McDougall 2-3/R, Eduardo Arredondo 2-4/2B
Mazatlan 8, Culiacan 2
MAZ-Pablo Ortega 7IP/2R/11H, Heber Gomez 3-4/2RBI, Jon Weber 3-5/2B/2RBI; CUL-Mike Cervenak 2-4/2B/R/RBI
Hermosillo 8, Mexicali 3
HMO-Nelson Teilon 4-5/HR/3RBI, Juan Pablo Oramos 5.2IP/1R/3H; MXI-Matt Camp 2-4/R, Adam Rosales 1-4/2RBI

SATURDAY, November 21
Los Mochis 7, Guasave 6
MOC-Saul Soto 2HRs/3RBI, Sandy Madera 3-5/HR/2R; GSV-Eduardo Arredondo 2-5/2R, Jose Rodriguez 3-5/2B/RBI
Culiacan 4, Mazatlan 1
CUL-Hector Rodriguez 7IP/0R/2H, Mike Cervenak 2-3/R/2RBI; MAZ-Jon Weber 2-4/RBI, Edgar Osuna 3IP/0R/2H/5K
Mexicali 9, Hermosillo 2
MXI-Oswaldo Morejon 3-4/2R/3RBI, Brad Snyder 2-4/2RHR/3R; HMO-Chris Roberson 2-4/2B/R, Geronimo Gil 2-3
Navojoa 2, Obregon 0
NAV-Javier Martinez 6IP/0R, Scott Thorman 2H/R; OBR-Luis Mendoza 8IP/1ER/8H

SUNDAY, November 22
Guasave 4, Los Mochis 3
GSV-Benji Gil 2R2B, Francisco Cordova 5.2IP/1R/4H; MOC-Sandy Madera 3-5/HR
Culiacan 9, Mazatlan 8
CUL-Mike Cervenak 2-5/2B/2R/RBI, Mike McCoy 1-2/2BB/2R/RBI; MAZ-Christian Quintero 3-5/2-2B/HR/5RBI
Hermosillo 10, Mexicali 7 (10)
HMO-Luis Alfonso Garcia 3-5/2HR, Geronimo Gil 2-4/2B/2R/RBI; MXI-Adam Rosales 2-4/2R/RBI, Oswaldo Morejon 2-4/R
Obregon 12, Navojoa 8 (first game)
OBR-Carlos Valencia 2-4/2B/2R/3RBI, John Mayberry Jr. 2-3/HR/3R; NAV-Adan Munoz HR, Christian Zazueta 2B/R/2RBI
Obregon 13, Navojoa 4 (second game)
OBR-Marco Tovar 6IP/2R/5H, Carlos Valencia 2B/HR/3RBI, Erubiel Durazo HR; NAV-Jesus Vega HR

TUESDAY, November 24
Obregon 7, Los Mochis 1
OBR-Erubiel Durazo 2-3/2RHR/2R, Andrew Kown 8IP/0R/2H; MOC-Ivan Terrazas 2-4/2B/R, Paul Llano 2-3
Hermosillo 9, Mazatlan 2
HMO-Luis Alfonso Garcia 2HR/3R/5RBI, Travis Blackley 7IP/2R/7H; MAZ-John Lindsey 2-4/2RHR, Ruben Rivera 2-2B
Mexicali 11, Culiacan 7
MXI-Roman Pena 2-5/2B/R/2RBI, Adam Rosales 2-3/2B/3R; CUL-Mike Cervenak 4-5/HR/5RBI, Alex Sanchez 3-5/3R
Guasave 7, Navojoa 4
GSV-Francisco Mendez 3-4/2B/R/2RBI, Mario Valenzuela HR; Robert Coello 7IP/1R/3H. NAV-Scott Thorman 2B/R/RBI

WEDNESDAY, November 25
Obregon 3, Los Mochis 1
OBR-Erubiel Durazo 2-3.HR, Mauricio Lara 6IP/0ER/5H; MOC-Sandy Madera 2-3, Luis Suarez 2-3
Hermosillo 8, Mazatlan 5
HMO-James Adduci 2-3/HR/3R/2RBI/SB, Edgar Gonzalez 5IP/1ER/5H, MAZ-Ruben Rivera 3-5/HR/3R, Miguel Ojeda 2-4/2RHR
Culiacan 5, Mexicali 0
CUL-Andres Meza 6IP/0R/5H, Jorge Vazquez 2RHR, Alex Sanchez HR; MXI-Roman Pena, 1-3/2B, Carlos Sievers 1-4/2B
Navojoa 12, Guasave 3
NAV-Reid Gorecki 2-4/2HR/3R/5RBI, Tim Gustafson 5IP/0R/3H; GSV-Mario Valenzuela 2-4/2-2B/R/2RBI

THURSDAY, November 26
Los Mochis 6, Obregon 5 (12)
MOC-Luis Suarez 3-5/R/RBI, Saul Soto 2B/3RBI, Carlos Orrantia 2-4/@/2RBI, OBR-Jason Botts 2-4/R/RBI, Agustin Murillo HR
Hermosillo 9, Mazatlan 4
HMO-Jose Luis Sandoval 2-3/2B/2R/RBI, Vinny Castilla 2-3/R/2RBI; MAZ-John Lindsey 2-5/2B/2RBI, Heber Gomez 2-4/R/RBI
Culiacan 2, Mexicali 0
CUL-Hector Rodriguez 7IP/0R/4H, Jorge Vazquez HR, Alex Sanchez 2-4/R; MXI-Oscar Rivera 6.1IP/2R/3H
Navojoa 9, Guasave 5
NAV-Reid Gorecki 2-4/HR/2R/2RBI, Christian Zazueta 5-5/2B/R/2RBI; GSV-Japhet Amador 2-4/3RHR, Francisco Mendez HR

UPCOMING MEXICAN PACIFIC LEAGUE GAMES
NOV. 27-29 Culiacan @ Hermosillo, Los Mochis @ Navojoa, Obregon @ Guasave, Mazatlan @ Mexicali
DEC. 1-3 Guasave @ Navojoa, Obregon @ Los Mochis, Culiacan @ Mexicali, Hermosillo @ Mazatlan

DEC. 4-6 Mazatlan @ Culiacan, Los Mochis @ Guasave, Navojoa @ Hermosillo, Mexicali @ Obregon

MEXICAN BASEBALL ROAD TRIP (Stop #9): Chihuahua, Chihuahua

We’ll be heading east into Mexican League territory for our Road Trip this week. Leaving Mexicali, we’ll retrace our steps on Highway 2 along the Mexico-USA border for 312 miles before heading south on Highway 15 to Hermosillo, another 120 miles. Then, it’s eastbound again on Highway 16 for 347 more miles to Chihuahua, home of the LMB Dorados the past three seasons. In case you’re keeping track, that’s 779 miles total (the longest stretch between cities we’ll have on this trip).

The city of Chihuahua lies about 400 miles south of the USA border in a central location between Mexico’s Pacific and Atlantic coasts. It was founded in 1709 by Spanish explorer Antonio Deza y Ulloa, and was named after a Tarahumara Indian word meaning “between two waters” because it sits between the rivers Sacramento and Chuviscar on the western edge of the Chihuahuan Desert. As you might expect, it’s a dry climate, with about 18 inches of annual rainfall, but the city’s altitude of 4,921 feet keeps the temperatures cooler than the desert floor.

With a 2007 population of about 825,000 residents, Chihuahua is Mexico’s 12th-largest city. While such historic revolutionary figures as Father Miguel Hidalgo, Benito Juarez and Pancho Villa have lived here (Hidalgo as a prisoner), Chihuahua has become a strong industrial city, with 79 maquiladora factories, the most in Mexico. Some of the larger companies in town are Ford, John Deere, Hallmark and LG Electronics. The state of Chihuahua is also Mexico’s largest producer of zinc and second in silver, and also tops the country in both apples and cattle.

Travelers have a number of historic landmarks to explore, including the former homes of both Juarez and Villa, plus a number of museums, parks and monuments. The Plaza Mayor in the city center features green spaces, fountains and a number of monuments, including the Angel of Liberty statue (which has a laser-tipped sword that rotates 360 degrees).

Chihuahua is home to the Dorados, who moved into town from San Luis Potosi in 2007. The city has hosted Mexican League baseball for 14 scattered seasons since 1940, but has never qualified for the playoffs. The Dorados play in the 14,500-seat Estadio Chihuahua, which was built in 2004. However, the team has struggled financially, and rumors have the club being courted by interested parties from the southern Mexico state of Chiapas.

Sunday, December 13 (Stop #10): Torreon, Coahuila


NEXT WEEK ON Baseball Mexico…
An interview with Mexican Pacific League President Omar Canizales

Thursday, November 19, 2009

MAZATLAN CLINCHES FIRST HALF MEX PAC TITLE

The Mazatlan Venados reeled off a seven-game winning streak to clinch the first-half title in the Mexican Pacific League, putting an exclamation point on what has been a dominant season thus far for the defending Mex Pac champions. Mazatlan finished with a 25-10 record to outdistance second-place Mexicali, who ended the primera vuelta four games back at 20-14.

The Venados’ strength lies in their pitching, as their 3.24 team ERA ranks first in the league. Mazatlan pitchers have allowed the fewest runs, hits and walks among the eight Mex Pac teams. While the Deer batters started off slowly and ranked near the bottom of the LMP for much of the first half, the team has surged to second with a .275 average, thanks in no small part to Jon Weber’s (pictured) phenomenal .432 mark since joining the club ten games ago.

The second half, as always, could be an entirely different story as teams load up their rosters for the playoff drive. Hermosillo has activated all-time Mexican great Vinny Castilla, former big leaguer Benji Gil began playing with Guasave last week, and Australian National Team star Chris Snelling (another ex-MLBer) made his debut with Obregon last Tuesday.

ALL-STAR TIME FOR OTHER MEXICAN WINTER CIRCUITS

All three of Mexico’s other professional winter leagues are in All-Star Game mode these days. The Northwest Mexico League, which is centered well south of Mazatlan on the Pacific Coast, held its All-Star Game in Santiago last week, with the North defeating the South by a score of 8-4 as Eloy Gutierrez of Tepic bashed two homers.


While the six-team LBN consists mostly of second- and third-year pros, the Academy Rookie League near Monterrey is a collection of eight complex teams of first-year players. Two different Mexican League clubs assign players to each Academy League team. In their All-Star Game, the North beat the South, 11-7. Laguna property Gilbert Galaviz won MVP honors with three singles and four RBIs for the North.


Finally, the Veracruz Winter League’s All-Star Game will be held this weekend in Los Tuxtlas. The LIV is an independent eight-team circuit featuring a number of familiar names in Mexican baseball, including Sharnol Adriana (pictured), Jayson Bass and Rudy Pemberton (who will all take part in the Home Run Derby). Last week, 2008 Mexican League Triple Crown winner Kit Pellow joined Los Tuxtlas, who ran away with the first half title by winning 22 of 25 games.

A-GON WINS SECOND CONSECUTIVE GOLD GLOVE AWARD

Adrian Gonzalez capped off another standout season with the San Diego Padres by earning his second consecutive Gold Glove as the National League’s best defensive first baseman. Gonzalez committed just seven errors on 1,367 chances at first in 2009. He also put together another solid year at the plate, batting .277 with 40 homers and 99 RBIs. In four seasons with his hometown Padres, the 27-year-old two-time All-Star has stroked 130 homers and driven in an even 400 runs while hitting a cool .286.

Gonzalez has two years left on his contract and has been sought by several teams looking for a trade. He and his wife Betsy are currently spending the month in Europe.

1) MAZATLAN VENADOS (25-10/.714/0.0GB/8.0PTS)

Mazatlan cruised to the Mex Pac’s first half title on the strength of their pitching, but their offense hasn’t been bad, either. Jon Weber is crushing the ball at a .469 clip in 10 games while Rogelios Noris is batting .369 in 15 games, giving the Venados a great tandem in left field. Ruben Rivera has 8 homers and an LMP-best 34 RBIs.

Pablo Ortega is 5-1 and leads the Mex Pac with a 2.09 ERA. When former 20-game winner Esteban Loaiza is your least effective starter at 2-1 and 4.35, you’ve got a good staff. Gabe DeHoyos has 11 saves in 15 outings.

2) MEXICALI AGUILAS (21-14/.600/4.0GB/7.0PTS)

While Mazatlan has won with pitching, Mexicali has done it with hitting. The Aguilas lead the LMP with a .305 team batting average. Roman Pena is second in the league with a .393 mark, and regulars Brad Snyder (.354), Oswaldo Morejon (.333), Matt Camp (.329), Emmanuel Valdez (328) and Adam Morales (.321) are all above .320.

The Aguilas pitching has been mediocre at best. Newcomer Thomas Diamond is 2-0 with an 0.64 ERA after three starts, and although veteran Oscar Rivera is just 2-3, he does have a 3.69 ERA after six starts.

3) HERMOSILLO NARANJEROS (18-16/.529/6.5GB/6.0PTS)

Hermosillo has added former MLB All-Star Vinny Castilla, who hit .467 with 2 homers and 4 RBIs in his first 4 games. Geronimo Gil is hitting .327 while Luis Alfonso Garcia is tied for the LMP lead with 11 homers and ranks second with 31 RBIs, but Australian Trent Oeltgen’s.348 average is parked on the disabled list.

The Naranjeros are second in the LMP with a 3.50 ERA. Starter Juan Delgadillo is 3-2 and has allowed 3 runs in 21.2 innings in his last 4 starts. Closer Dennis Sarfate has 7 saves with no walks in his last 8 appearances.

4) OBREGON YAQUIS (18-17/.514/7.0GB/5.0PTS)

After a slow start for Obregon, John Mayberry Jr. has gone 10-for-21 over his last 5 games to bring his average to an even .300. He’s hit 3 homers in that span. MLB vets Chris Snelling and Erubiel Durazo have joined the Yaquis, but defending Mex Pac MVP Agustin Murillo is hitting just .242 with 2 homers and 8 RBIs in 16 games.

Luis Mendoza is 4-1 with a 3.32 ERA and 40 strikeouts, but has been inconsistent. Bryan Corey’s return this week from a tryout in Japan would help. Closer Mario Mendoza Jr. has 2 wins and 4 saves in his last 10 games.

5) NAVOJOA MAYOS (17-18-0/.486/8.0GB/4.5PTS)

Navojoa is last in the LMP with 21 homers and a .255 batting average, but the Mayos are far from helpless. Matt Young is batting .306 and is second in the league with 13 steals, and Francisco Arias has hit a productive .293. Longtime Mexican infielder Abel Martinez (.226) and Javier Robles (.194) need to pick up the pace, though.

Mayos starters Orlando Lara, Tim Gustafson and Brian Adams have combined for a 7-2 record and each has a sub-4.00 ERA, but the bullpen has struggled. Brett Butts has 5 saves, but his ERA is a toxic 5.40.

6) LOS MOCHIS CANEROS (14-20/.412/10.5GB/4.0PTS)

Sandy Madera of Los Mochis continues to lead the LMP with a .442 batting average and is tied for the top with 11 homers. Saul Soto and Sebastian Valle have alternated catching and DH duties, combining for 19 homers, 42 RBIs and a .305 average. Beyond them, though, the Caneros offense is a mess. Expect lots of walks for the Big 3.

The Mochis pitching is little better. Closer Jorge Vasquez has been rock solid, with 6 saves and a .171 ERA in 19 trips from the pen. Ex-Red Sox pitcher Juan Pena was just brought in, but the Caneros will need more help.

7) GUASAVE ALGODONEROS (13-20/.394/11.0GB/3.5PTS)

Like Mochis, Gusave is an “offensively challenged” team. Unlike the Caneros, the Algodoneros don’t have a Madera, Soto or Valle in the middle of the order. Marshall McDougall has hit .311 with 3 homers and 12 RBIs in 16 games and MLB vet Benji Gil arrived last week. Japhet Amador is batting .364, but rarely seems to get into a game.

The Cotton Pickers pitching situation isn’t as dire. Robert Coello is 2-0 after 6 starts and his 2.70 ERA is fourth in the LMP while 4-1 Jim McGrane’s 3.20 ERA ranks sixth. Closer Tim Lavigne is 0-2, but has 4 saves and a 2.63 ERA.

8) CULIACAN TOMATEROS (11-22/.333/13.0GB/3.0PTS)

Paquin Estrada’s return as manager has not helped Culiacan as much as they'd hoped, as the Tomateros have gone 5-9 since Estrada replaced Nick Leyva. Mike Cervenak is hitting .348 and has combined with Refugio Cervantes for 16 homers and 51 RBIs, while Mike McCoy has a .327 average and leads the LMP with 15 steals.

Chris Waters has gone 3-1 with a 3.98 ERA, and Hector Rodriguez is 1-0 and 2.05 after 4 starts. The Tomateros bullpen isn’t bad, and Jose Silva is now the closer with 2 saves and no runs allowed in 3 appearances.

MEXICAN PACIFIC LEAGUE Results (11-13-09 through 11-19-09)

FRIDAY, November 13
Mazatlan 6, Navojoa 0
MZ-Pablo Ortega 7IP/5H/0R, Brian Bixler 2H/HR, N-Concepcion Rodriguez 2H
Obregon 6, Hermosillo 5
O-Agustin Murillo 4-5, Said Gutierrez 2B/HR/2RBI, H-Geronimo Gil 2-4/HR/2R, Jesus Castillo 2-4/2B/3RBI
Los Mochis 4, Culiacan 3
LM-Salvador Arellano 4IP/1H/0R/4K, Saul Soto 3-3/2HR/3RBI, Sandy Madera 3-4/R, C-Mike McCoy 1-2/R/RBI
Mexicali 10, Guasave 6
MX-Oswaldo Morejon 4-4/R/2RBI, Matt Camp 3-4/2B/3R, G-Jose Rodriguez 2-5/HR/3RBI, Eduardo Arredondo 3-5/2B

SATURDAY, November 14
Mazatlan 3, Navojoa 2
MZ-Walter Silva 5IP/2R. Christian Quintero 2-4/R/RBI, N-Alejandro Garrido 5IP/1ER, Raul Lopez 2-4/RBI
Obregon 8, Hermosillo 0
O-John Mayberry Jr. 4-5/2B/3RBI, Mauricio Lara 4.2IP/0R/4H, H-Vinny Castilla 3-4/2B, Carlos Gastelum 2-3
Culiacan 4, Los Mochis 3
C-Mike Cervenak 2-4/R/RBI, Andres Meza 6IP/2R/4H, LM-Edgar Quintero 2-4/HR, Sandy Madera 2-4/R
Mexicali 8, Guasave 4
MX-Oscar Rivera 6IP/0R/1H, Roman Pena 2-4/3B/2R/2RBI, G-Eduardo Arredondo 2-5, Cristian Presichi 2B/RBI

SUNDAY, November 15
Mazatlan 3, Navojoa 2
MZ-Hector Garanzuay 2-3/2-2B/R, Ehren Wassermann 5IP/1ER/3H, N-Concepcion Rodriguez 2-4/2B/R
Hermosillo 4, Obregon 3
N-Luis Alfonso Garcia GHSR, Juan Delgadillo 7.2IP/0R/6H, O-Luis Mendoza 7IP/0R/2H, John Mayberry Jr. 2-4/HR/2RBI
Culiacan 5, Los Mochis 2
C-Refugio Cervantes 2RHR, Hector Rodriguez 5.2IP/1R/3H/5K, LM-Saul Soto 2-3/2-2B/RBI, Sandy Madera 2-4/R
Guasave 9, Mexicali 5
G-Francisco Mendez 3-4/HR/2R/4RBI, Benji Gil 2-4/RBI, MX-Brad Snyder 2-2/HR/3RBI, Oswaldo Morejon 3-5/R/RBI

TUESDAY, November 17
Mexicali 12, Navojoa 1
MX-Roman Pena 4-4/2B/3B/2HRs/4RBI, Noe Munoz 3-4/2HRs/3R/4RBI, Thomas Diamond 6IP/1R/2H, N-Matt Young 2-4/HR
Culiacan 4, Obregon 2
C-Luis Cruz 3-4/2-2B/2RBI, Salvador Valdez 3.1IP/0R/1H/6K, O-Chris Snelling 2RHR, James Tomlin 2-4.
Mazatlan 8, Guasave 6
MZ-Freddy Sandoval 2-5/2B/HR/3RBI, Jon Weber 3-4/HR/2R, G-Marshall McDougall 3RHR, Gabriel Gutierrez HR
Hermosillo 4, Los Mochis 3
H-Vinny Castilla 2-5/2RHR, Francisco Campos 6IP/0R/5H/5K, LM-Ivan Terrazas 2B/R, Salvador Arellano 4.2IP/1R/3K

WEDNESDAY, November 18
Mexicali 13, Navojoa 6
MX-Adam Rosales 5-6/2B/2R, Oscar Robles 3-5/2R/3RBI, N-Adan Munoz 1-2/2RHR/3R, Francisco Arias 4-5/2RBI
Obregon 5, Culiacan 4
O-John Mayberry Jr. GWHR-B9, Carlos Valencia HR, C-Refugio Cervantes 2B/R/RBI, Jesus Cota 2-4/RBI
Mazatlan 10, Guasave 9
MZ-Jon Weber 4-5/HR/2R/2RBI, Christian Quintero 3-5/2R, G-Marshall McDougall 2-4/2B/2RHR/4RBI
Los Mochis 8, Hermosillo 3
LM-Omar De La Torre 3-4/2RHR/4RBI, Sandy Madera 2-3/HR/2R/2RBI, H-Vinny Castilla 2RHR, Carlos Gastelum 2-4/2-2B

THURSDAY, November 19
Mexicali 4, Navojoa 1
MX-Calvin Medlock 5IP/0R/3H/5K, Brad Snyder 3-4/2B/3B/R/3RBI, N-Tim Gustafson 8IP/3R/7K, Matt Young 1-3/SB/R
Obregon 5, Culiacan 4
O-James Tomlin HR/3BB/2R, Said Gutierrez 2-3/R/RBI, C-Damian Moss 5IP/1R/3H/6BB, Mike McCoy 2-4/2B/3B/R/RBI
Guasave 8, Mazatlan 7
G-Jose Rodriguez 4-5/HR/2R/3RBI, Japhet Amador 3-5/3-2B/RBI, MZ-Brian Bixler 2-4/HR/2RBI, Ruben Rivera 2RHR
Hermosillo 11, Los Mochis 7
H-Fernando Villalobos 4IP/1R/2H, Humberto Cota 2-3/2B/2R/2RBI, LM-Omar De La Torre 2-4/HR/2R/RBI, Sebastian Valle 2-2/HR

MEXICAN PACIFIC LEAGUE SCHEDULE
NOV. 20-22 Guasave @ Los Mochis, Obregon @ Navojoa, Culiacan @ Mazatlan, Hermosillo @ Mexicali
NOV. 24-26 Los Mochis @ Obregon, Mazatlan @ Hermosillo, Mexicali @ Culiacan, Navojoa @ Guasave
NOV. 27-29
Obregon @ Guasave, Los Mochis @ Navojoa, Culiacan @ Hermosillo, Mazatlan @ Mexicali

MEXICAN BASEBALL ROAD TRIP (Stop #8): Mexicali, Baja California Norte



We’ll finish the Mexican Pacific League portion of our Road Trip by heading north from Hermosillo towards Arizona on Highway 15 until turning left at a fork that puts us on Highway 2. We’ll follow Highway 2 through Caborca and come right up to the Mexico-Arizona border at the town of Sonoyta, then head west along the border through a natural reserve and the city of San Luis Rio Colorado before crossing into the state of Baja California Norte and stopping in Mexicali, a city of 575,000 on Mexico’s border with California.

Historically, Mexicali is a fairly “recent” city, developed as a center for area farmers 100 years ago. After becoming the capital of Baja California Norte in 1915, it grew as a place for North Americans to engage in illicit activity as the 20th Century progressed (like many border towns). The economy expanded further as foreign companies established maquiladoro factories in Mexicali. Maquiladoros are common in Mexican cities along the USA border, and are built primarily by North American companies who seek to take advantage of Mexico’s lower labor costs while having close access to the USA market. Maquiladoros account for much of Mexicali’s burgeoning population. Across the border lies Mexicali’s twin city of Calexico, California. Both share a 24-hour border crossing.

While Mexicali is not the tourist draw Tijuana has become to the west, there are still local points of interest. It has the Mexico’s largest Chinatown (La Chinesca), and there are a large number of shops and restaurants in a triangular area near the border. In the former state governor’s mansion on Avenida Alvaro Obregon lies the Galeria de la Ciudad, which hosts art works from many Mexican artists. Mexicali is also home to the University of Baja California, which features a regional museum featuring exhibits of paleontology, archeology, ethnography, landscape photography and missions of Baja California. The annual Fiesta del Sol in October is one of the year’s highlights. Still, Mexicali is not a textbook example of a traveler’s paradise. It is very hot during the summer, gets below freezing during the night in winter, and in general is not tourist-oriented despite being one of the most prominent border crossings between the USA and Mexico. Millions of people have passed through Calexico and Mexicali, but few of them have stayed overnight.

Mexicali’s baseball team is called the Aguilas, or Eagles. The Aguilas were formed in 1976, and are in their 34th winter in the MexPac, having won three LMP pennants and a Caribbean Series championship in 1986 under legendary manager Ben “Cananea” Reyes. Their home stadium, Estadio Casas GEO seats 15,000 fans around a symmetrical field measuring 330 feet down the foul lines and 400 feet to straightaway center. Mexicali hosted the 2009 Caribbean Series, becoming the northernmost venue in which the tournament has ever been held.


NEXT WEEK (Stop #9): Chihuahua, Chihuahua

Friday, November 13, 2009

NARANJEROS TO RETIRE FORMER STAR’S NUMBER 23

One of the longtime stars of the Hermosillo Naranjeros was scheduled to have his number retired by the team before a November 13 home game against Obregon. Cornelio Garcia’s number 23 was to be laid to rest prior to Friday’s first pitch.

Garcia spent 19 winters in an Orangemen uniform, and was well-respected among Mexican fanaticos as a smooth-swinging hit machine. Longtime Mexican baseball figure Carlos Fragoso, who grew up in Obregon and now does some scouting for the New York Yankees, likens Garcia to ex-major leaguer Vic Davalillo as a hitter. Garcia ended his Mex Pac career in 2005 after collecting 1,011 hits in 1,010 games for a lifetime winter average of .288. Although he wasn’t a power hitter, Garcia stole 151 bases as a member of five LMP championship teams.

Born in 1955 in Ensenada, Garcia was the first player ever drafted out of the National Baseball Academy in Monterrey in 1984. He spent time in the Chicago White Sox minor league system before returning to Mexico in 1990. He spent several summers in the Mexican League with Yucatan, Monterrey and Laguna, including a ten-year stretch in which he never hit below .330 (including a Liga-leading .382 average for the Sultanes in 1997.

Garcia becomes the ninth Hermosillo player to have his number retired.

OBREGON PITCHER TO GET TRYOUT IN JAPAN

Obregon Yaquis pitcher Bryan Corey has left the team for ten days to take part in a tryout for a Japanese team. Corey is expected back in Obregon by November 20.
The 36-year-old righthander was 3-0 for the Yaquis when he left for Asia. Corey’s 3.60 ERA was tenth in the Mex Pac and his 29 strikeouts iwas tied for tops in the league.

Corey was a 12th round pick by Detroit in the 1993 draft as a position player before the Tigers converted him into a pitcher two years later. He made his major league debut in 1998 as an original member of the Arizona Diamondbacks, and has also pitched for Texas, Boston, San Diego and the Los Angeles Dodgers, turning in a 4-4 record and 5.13 ERA in parts of five seasons. Corey has pitched for several Class AAA teams, as well as Japan’s Yomiuri Giants.

Corey went 7-9 with a 5.34 ERA for Oklahoma City of the Pacific Coast League in 2009.

CARIBBEAN ROUNDUP: Puerto Rico League opens this weekend

The Puerto Rico Baseball League began its winterball season Thursday night, and a familiar face is hoping to play for one of its five teams. First baseman Carlos Delgado (pictured), who is a free agent after spending the past four seasons with the New York Mets, says he’d like to play in Puerto Rico to show major league teams his May hip surgery was a success. The 37-year-old Delgado is a career .280 hitter in the majors with 473 homers and 1.512 RBIs.

Elsewhere in the Caribbean, Caracas and Magallenes are tied on top of the Venezuelan League standings with 21-7 records. Josh Thole of Caracas leads the league in batting with a .419 average, while Margarita’s Carlos Monasterios is 5-0 with a 2.45 ERA.

The Este Toros lead a tight Dominican League race with a 13-8 mark. Oriente’s Robinzon Diaz is the top batter with a .397 average. Among Dominican pitchers, lefty Evan MacLane of Oriente is 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA over five starts.

1) MAZATLAN VENADOS (20-9-0/.690/0.0GB)

John Lindsay is third in the LMP with a .375 batting average, but he’s the only Venados regular hitting higher than Brian Bixler’s .275. Mex Pac vet outfielder Jon Weber was batting .464 after his first six games, but more help at the plate is needed. Ruben Rivera has eight homers and 28 RBIs.

Pablo Ortega’s four wins are tied for the league lead, and Oscar Bustillos’ 2.34 ERA is second. Reliever Rafael Martin is 3-0 with an 0.55 ERA, and Gabe De Hoyos tops the LMP with 8 saves.

2) NAVOJOA MAYOS (17-12-0/.586/3.0GB)

Francisco Arias leads the Mayos with a .305 average and his 23 RBIs are fifth in the Mex Pac. Matt Young has batted .302 with four homers and 9 stolen bases, and may be Navojoa’s best all-around player at this point. The Mayos lead the LMP with 29 steals, but are last with 18 homers in 28 games.

The pitching has been mediocre, although Brian Adams won his last two starts to go to 3-1 and is now third in the LMP with a 2.45 ERA. Closer Brett Butts has 5 saves despite a 5.40 ERA.

3) MEXICALI AGUILAS (16-13-0/.552/4.0GB)

The Aguilas lead the Mex Pac with a .290 team batting average, topped by Roman Pena, Brad Snyder, Matt Camp and Emmanuel Valdez (who are all above .300). Pena’s .368 is fifth in the league, Valdez is tied for third with 8 homers and is fourth with 24 RBIs. Snyder leads the LMP with 9 steals.

Pitching? That’s been another matter in Mexicali, with 20 men taking the mound already this winter. Vet Enrique Quintanilla is 2-1 with a 3.53 ERA and Mauricio Tabachnik is 2-1 and 2.20.

4) HERMOSILLO NARANJEROS (15-12-1/.536/4.5GB)

Luis Alfonso Garcia has gotten a lot from his .257 batting average, topping the Mex Pac with 10 homers and 27 RBIs. Trent Oeltgen’s .348 average leads Hermosillo and Humberto Cota has been solid, with a .290 average and five homers. Recent returnee Chris Roberson is just 1-for-11, but should heat up.

Juan Delgadillo and Fernando Villalobos both have 3 wins, and Jesus Castillo has won twice since moving into the rotation with a 1.84 ERA. Closer Dennis Sarfate has 7 saves and a 1.76 ERA.

5) OBREGON YAQUIS (14-15-0/.484/6.0GB)

Neil Sellers is third in the Mex Pac with a .371 average, while Michael Taylor is hitting .308 after 19 games. Said Gutierrez has added a .289 average, 5 homers and 18 RBIs. Ex-big leaguer Erubiel Durazo recently joined the Yaquis and homered in his second game Wednesday night.

The pitching has been awful. Though Bryan Corey and Luis Mendoza have combined to go 7-1 and are tied for the LMP lead with 29 strikeouts each, Obregon has the worst ERA in the league at 5.25.

6) LOS MOCHIS CANEROS (12-16-1/.429/7.5GB)

The Caneros may have the most dangerous lineup in the LMP. Sandy Madera leads the Mex Pac with a .440 average, 62 points higher than his closest competitor. Madera, Sebastian Valle (9 homers) and Saul Soto have combined for 25 homers, 54 RBIs and a .348 average. That’s got to be scary for pitchers.

Conversely, Mochis’ pitching has been rather scary itself. Logan Duran is 2-1 and 3.62 as the only starter with more than one win, and last year’s ERA champion, Ismael Castillo, is 1-2 and 5.93.

7) GUASAVE ALGODONEROS (11-16-1/.407/8.0GB)

It’s hard to imagine a team with reliable veterans like Mario Valenzuela, Marshall McDougall, Cristian Presichi and Eduardo Arredondo (plus 2009 Mexican League Rookie of the Year Japhet Amador) is last in LMP batting with a .249 average, but that’s the story in Guasave. Amador is hitting .368, but only has 19 at-bats.

The Algodoneros have had a good week to pull out of last place. Jim McGrane tops the starters with a 3-1 record and 2.52 ERA, while closer Tim Lavigne has 4 saves and a 3.09 ERA in 12 trips from the bullpen.

8) CULIACAN TOMATEROS (8-19-1/.296/11.0GB)

The Tomateros have fallen into last place. Even so, Mike Cervenak is putting up MVP-like numbers. The Phillies farmhand has a .378 average, 8 homers and 25 RBIs to rank in the top 3 for each category. Mike McCoy is hitting .338 with 9 steals, Dee Brown is batting .290 with 5 homers, and Refugio Cervantes is at .275 with 7 homers.

Chris Waters heads a decent starting rotation with a 3-0 record and a 3.34 ERA. Major league vet Luis Ayala has 3 saves, but none since last month, and his ERA is now 4.15 after being rocked in two recent outings.

MEXICAN PACIFIC LEAGUE Results (11-06-09 through 11-12-09)

FRIDAY, November 6
Guasave 7, Culiacan 6
G-Ivan Cervantes 3RHR, Chris Carter 2-3/2BB/RBI, C-Refugio Cervantes 4-5/2R, Jesus Cota 2RHR
Hermosillo 11, Navojoa 5
H-Luis Alfonso Garcia 3-5/2HR/5RBI, Ty Taubenheim 6IP/2R/4H, N-Concepcion Rodriguez 2R2B
Mexicali 5, Obregon 4
MX-Oswaldo Morejon 4-5/3-2B/3B, Brad Snyder 2-4/2R/2RBI, O-Hernando Arredondo2-4/2B/RBI
Los Mochis 3, Mazatlan 1 (13)
LM-Sandy Madera 3-5/R, Pablo Ochoa 6IP/0R/2H, MZ-Brian Bixler 2B/3B, Oscar Bustillos 7IP/1R/4H

SATURDAY, November 7
Guasave 9, Culiacan 2
G-Jose Rodriguez 4-5/2B/3B/4RBI, Eduardo Arredondo HR/3RBI, C-Mike McCoy 2-3/2B/R
Hermosillo 4, Navojoa 3
H-Humberto Cota 2RHR, Jose Luis Sandoval 2-4/R, N-Matt Young 2-3/2RHR, Tim Gustafson 6IP/2R/6K
Mexicali 6, Obregon 3
MX-Mauricio Tabachnik 5IP/1R/1H, Oscar Robles 2RHR, O-Michael Taylor 2R2B
Mazatlan 9, Los Mochis 2
MZ-Ruben Rivera 2-4/HR/4RBI, Pablo Ortega 7UP/2R/6H, LM-Issmael Salas 2-4/2B/R, Sandy Madera 2-3

SUNDAY, November 8
Culiacan 14, Guasave 4
G-Mike Cervenak 4-6/HR/2RBI, Chris Waters 6IP/2R/4H, G-Mario Valdez 2-3/2RBI, Mario Valenzuela 2B/RBI
Navojoa 2, Hermosillo 1
N-Brian Adams CG/1R/6H, Abel Martinez 2R1B, H-Juan Pablo Oramas 6.1IP/1R/7K, Jose Luis Sandoval RBI1B
Obregon 3, Mexicali 2
O-Bryan Corey 5.1IP/2R/4H, Daniel Fornes 2-4/2B/R, MX-Emmanuel Valdez HR, Roman Pena 3-4/2B
Mazatlan 13, Los Mochis 3
MZ-Christian Quintero 4-6/2R/4RBI, Ehren Wassermann 6IP/0R/2H, LM-Sandy Madera 3-3/R

TUESDAY, November 10
Obregon 5, Mazatlan 4
O-Albino Contreras 3-4/2-2B/RBI, Said Gutierrez 2-4/2RBI, MZ-Heber Gomez 2-4/HR, Esteban Loaiza 7IP/2R
Guasave 4, Hermosillo 1
G-Japhet Amador & Chris Carter 2RHRs, Jim McGrane 6.2IP/1R, H-Juan Delgadillo 7IP/2R. Luis Alfonso Garcia HR
Navojoa 5, Culiacan 3
N-Matt Young 2RHR, Orlando Lara 7IP/1R/4H, C-Mike Cervenak 2-4/HR/2R/RBI, Hector Rodriguez 6.1IP/2R/4H
Mexicali 12, Los Mochis 5
MX-Emmanuel Valdez 2/4/2B/GSHR/2R/4RBI, Oscar Robles 3-4/HR/2R, LM-Sebastian Valle HR, Saul Soto HR

WEDNESDAY, November 11
Mazatlan 11, Obregon 4
MZ-Ruben Rivera HR/3RBI, Jon Weber 3-5/2R, Brian Bixler 2-4/HR/2R/2RBI O-Agustin Murrillo 2-4/HR/2RBI
Guasave 4, Hermosillo 1
G-Manuel Flores 4IP/1R, Leonardo Heras 3-4/2RBI, H-Carlos Gastelum 3-4/2-2B/R, Francisco Campos 5.1IP/2R
Navojoa 7, Culiacan 3
N-Francisco Arias 2-4/2R/2RBI, Matt Young 1-4/2R, C-Mike Cervenak 2-3/2RHR, Travis Minix 6IP/5R/2ER/7K
Mexicali 3, Los Mochis 1
MX-Oswaldo Morejon 3-5/2-2B/2RBI, Thomas Diamond 5IP/0R/2H, LM-Ivan Terrazas 2-4, Juan Pena 4.2IP/1R/2H

THURSDAY, November 12
Mazatlan 14, Obregon 4
MZ-John Lindsey 3-3/HR/2R, Jon Weber 3-5/2R/3RBI, O-Flavio Romero 3-3/2B/R, Luis Carlos Garcia 1-4/2RBI
Guasave 7, Hermosillo 1
G-Francisco Mendez 2-4/HR/3R, Gabriel Gutierrez 2-4/2B/3RBI, Robert Coello 5.2IP/0R/3H, H-Carlos Rodriguez RBI2B
Navojoa 8, Culiacan 4
N-Adan Munoz 2-4/GSHR/5RBI, Tim Gustafson 6IP/2ER, C-Jesus Cota 2RHR/3RBI, Adan Amezcua 2-3/RBI
Los Mochis 5, Mexicali 2
LM-Sandy Madera 2-4/HR/2R, Angel Chavez 2-4/2RBI, Sebastian Valle HR, MX-Adam Rosales 3-3/2B/R/RBI

MEXICAN PACIFIC LEAGUE SCHEDULE
NOV. 13-15
Navojoa @ Mazatlan, Obregon @ Hermosillo, Guasave @ Mexicali, Los Mochis @ Culiacan
NOV. 17-19 Culiacan @ Obregon, Hermosillo @ Los Mochis, Mazatlan @ Guasave, Mexicali @ Navojoa
NOV. 20-22 Guasave @ Los Mochis, Obregon @ Navojoa, Culiacan @ Mazatlan, Hermosillo @ Mexicali

MEXICAN BASEBALL ROAD TRIP (Stop #7): Hermosillo, Sonora



From Obregon, we’ll drive north on Highway 15, which connects all LMP cities except Mexicali. After we go through Empalme and Guaymas (both former Mex Pac cities now with teams in the Class A Mexican Northern League), we’ll reach Hermosillo, the capital of Sonora and a city of 600,000 residents, the largest home of a MexPac team. Hermosillo is in a rather unique setting, a landlocked desert city surrounded by various rock formations and crowned in its center by a tall outcrop lit at night by several radio towers.

Besides serving as a political center, Hermosillo is very much an agriculture-oriented city, especially cattle ranching. It is also an important place for industry, with car making one of the leading local occupations. Many early figures of the revolutions in the early 20th century called Hermosillo home, including General Alvaro Obregon, Plutarco Elias Calles and Abelardo Rodriguez. However, the relatively recent boom over the past fifty years has all but obliterated anything that may have survived from the old days.

While Hermosillo is very spread out and not the best place for visitors who like to walk around, there are some fairly interesting things on hand for tourists to check out. The Plaza Zaragosa is very pleasant with many trees and a lacy white bandstand, and on its edge sits a 19th century cathedral featuring twin towers and a dome with crosses atop each. A largely neo-classical structure, the cathedral took over a century to build. Also nearby is the similarly styled Government Palace, most notable for its courtyard murals painted by three artists in the 1980’s. Another interesting spot is the Museo de Sonora, a beautifully-restored former prison (which maintains vestiges of its past life) which is now a museum. South of town is the Centro Ecological de Sonora, a zoo and botanical garden.

Hermosillo is home to the Mexican Pacific League’s Naranjeros, or “Orange Growers.” The Naranjeros are considered one of the Mex Pac’s flagship franchises, and have played over 50 seasons and raked in 14 LMP championships. They play their home games at Estadio Hector Espino, a 13,000-seat ballpark named after Hector Espino, a Mexican baseball legend who spent 24 winters playing in Hermosillo. The right-handed batting Espino won 13 batting titles and seven home run crowns in the Mex Pac and still holds most LMP career hitting records. Considered by many to be the greatest player in Mexican baseball history, Espino hit a total of 752 homers between the Mexican League and Mexican Pacific League.


NEXT WEEK (Stop #8): Mexicali, Baja California Norte

Friday, November 6, 2009

McDONALD, WATSON COMBINE FOR POSTGAME WALK-OFF

The Hermosillo Naranjeros were abandoned by outfielders Darnell McDonald and Brandon Watson following last weekend’s series with Mexicali. After the Naranjeros beat the Aguilas, 4-3, last Sunday (thanks in part to a homer by McDonald), the two left Hermosillo to go home to the USA.
While Watson had been struggling at the plate, going just 4-for-26 in his last six games for the Naranjeros, McDonald was second in the Mex Pac with a .378 average, though he had cooled off considerably after a hot start. Hermosillo manager Homar Rojas said both players had worked hard for him, but added that Watson complained of being “tired” and McDonald had earlier mentioned his pregnant wife.
To replace the two extraneros on the roster, Hermosillo has brought in pitcher Travis Blackley and outfielder Chris Roberson, both of whom were teammates of Watson in Reno of the Class AAA Pacific Coast League last summer. Blackley, who pitched for Australia in the World Baseball Classic, is a former major leaguer who won four games with three saves for Reno in 111 innnings this year. He pitched for Mexicali last winter, going 2-3 in 12 starts for the Aguilas. Roberson, a popular Mex Pac veteran, hit .261 for Reno in 2009.

SAMARDZIJA SHUT DOWN AFTER FIVE STARTS FOR MEXICALI

In a move that was not unexpected, pitcher Jeff Samardzija is done for the year after the former Notre Dame football star turned in five starts for the Mexicali Aguilas this season. The Chicago Cubs prospect was sent home to rest up for the 2010 season, in which he is expected to contend for a slot in the Cubs’ starting rotation. He signed a contract with Chicago prior to the 2007 season that could net him US$16.5 million for up to seven years.
In five starts for Mexicali, Samardzija was 2-0 over 24 innings, and his 2.25 ERA was second to Mazatlan’s Oscar Bustillos among LMP pitchers. In his last start for the Aguilas, the 6’5” righthander went six innings against Hermosillo, allowing one run on four hits. He was 1-3 with the Cubs in 2009 after going 6-6 for Iowa in the Pacific Coast League.

LEYVA FIRED, ESTRADA BACK AS TOMATEROS SKIPPER

Former Philadelphia Phillies manager Nick Leyva has been sacked as skipper of the Culiacan Tomateros after the team won just six of their first 19 games this season. Leyva, who spent the 2009 season as a coach in Toronto under Cito Gaston, was booed by Culiacan fans during Tuesday’s 6-3 home loss to Hermosillo. Tomateros team president Juan Manuel Ley also incurred the wrath of attendees of the game at Estadio General Angel Flores.
According to the Puro Beisbol website, Leyva will be replaced by Francisco “Paquin” Estrada (pictured), a member of Mexico’s Salon de la Fama who spent 26 years as a catcher in his pro baseball career before becoming one of the country’s top managers. Estrada has led three teams to Mexican League pennants as well as earning three more Mex Pac flags (including two for Culiacan). He was expected to take the helm for the Tomateros last Thursday night.
The 60-year-old Estrada, who holds Minor League Baseball’s career record with 2,847 games caught, was enshrined in Monterrey in 2000.

MAZATLAN VENADOS (16-7-0)

Mazatlan swept Culiacan in three straight before taking two of three from Mexicali to finish the week with a 5-1 mark. The Venados have won 10 of their last 12 games.
John Lindsey leads the regulars with a .329 batting average while Ruben Rivera has six homers and 17 RBIs, but it’s pitching that has kept Mazatlan in first. Oscar Bustillos leads the LMP with a 1.52 ERA, Gabe DeHoyos is tops with 8 saves and the Venados’ 3.11 team ERA is the Mex Pac’s best.

HERMOSILLO NARANJEROS (13-9-1)

Hermosillo lost two of three home contests with Mexicali before winning a pair of road games in Culiacan to stay a half-game ahead of Navojoa for second place in the Mex Pac.
Despite the loss of Darnell McDonald and Brandon Watson, the Naranjeros still have Trent Oeltgen’s .360 average and Luis Alfonso Garcia’s seven homers and 21 RBIs. Reliever Fernando Villalobos is 3-1 with a 1.93 ERA, but the top starter has been Juan Delgadillo, who’s 3-1 and 3.25.

NAVOJOA MAYOS (13-10-0)

Navojoa moved into third by winning three straight games in Los Mochis after dropping two of three in Obregon. Matt Young’s two-run double was the key hit in Thursday’s 4-3 win over the Caneros.
Francisco Arias leads a balanced Mayos attack with a .313 average, while Javier Robles has five homers and Adan Munoz has 19 RBIs. Brian Adams has been the best starter with a 3-1 record and 3.00 ERA, but pitching has not been a Navojoa strong point.

MEXICALI AGUILAS (12-11-0)

Mexicali stayed above the .500 mark by splitting six games last week, beating Hermosillo twice and winning once in Mazatlan to remain in the LMP’s first division.
Roman Pena (.360), Matt Camp (.347) and Brad Snyder (.341) are all hitting over .340 while Snyder and Emmanuel Valdez have combined for 10 homers and 36 RBIs. The Aguilas pitching staff will miss Jeff Samardzija, but still have reliable Enrique Quintanilla’s 1-1 mark and 3.86 ERA.

OBREGON YAQUIS (12-11-0)

Obregon ended the week by winning two of three home games with Guasave to pull into a tie for fourth place with Mexicali. The Yaquis opened the week going 2-for-3 against Navojoa.
Neil Sellers, one of a number of Phillies prospects with the Yaquis, leads the club with a .365 average and 18 RBIs, while Said Gutierrez and Carlos Valencia each have four homers. Starter Luis Mendoza is 4-1 to lead the Mex Pac in wins, although his ERA of 3.68 is not particularly eye-popping.

LOS MOCHIS CANEROS (10-12-1)

Los Mochis struggled to a 1-5 record last week, losing two of three to cellar-dwelling Guasave before being embarrassed at home by three losses to Navojoa to fall to sixth place.
The Caneros’ early saving grace has been Sandy Madera, who leads the league with a .402 average, nine homers and 22 runs. Sebastian Valle is batting .322 with seven homers and 18 RBIs, but Logan Duran (2-1, 3.62) is the only Mochis pitcher with more than one win.

CULIACAN TOMATEROS (7-14-1)

Culiacan fired manager Nick Leyva, but returning skipper Paquin Estrada couldn’t halt a 1-5 week. In fact, the Tomateros’ only win came Wednesday, without either Leyva or Estrada in the dugout.
Mike McCoy and Mike Cervenak are both hitting .344. Cervenak has five homers, just behind Refugio Cervantes seven, and 20 RBIs. Among pitchers, Chris Waters is 2-0 with a 3.42 ERA and Travis Minix’ 3.41 ERA looks better than his 1-2 record, though Minix got shelled by Hermosillo in his last start.

GUASAVE ALGODONEROS (6-15-1)

Guasave is still in last place, but showed some signs of life last week, winning a series against Los Mochis and taking a road victory against a hot Obregon team. The Algodoneros problem is batting, with Guasave’s team .240 average last in the LMP. Mario Valenzuela is hitting .326, but with only 4 RBIs in 14 games. Mario Valdez has 4 homers and 12 RBIs, but only a .235 average. Jim McGrane is 2-1 with a 2.76 ERA, but he’s had precious little support.

MEXICAN PACIFIC LEAGUE Results (10-30-09 through 11-05-09)

FRIDAY, October 30
Mexicali 8, Hermosillo 1
MX-Jeff Samardzija 6IP/0R/4H/7K, Emmanuel Valdez 2RHR, H-Julian Figueroa 4IP/0R
Mazatlan 8, Culiacan 7 (10)
MZ-Freddy Sandoval HR/3RBI, Ruben Rivera 2RHR T10, C-Dee Brown HR/2RBI, Jesus Cota HR
Guasave 4, Los Mochis 3 (10)
G-Japhet Amador GW 2R1B B10, Jim McGrane 8.1IP/2R/6K, LM-Ramon Orantes 2RHR, Coby Smith 2-5/RBI
Navojoa 8, Obregon 4
N-Adan Munoz 2-4/R/2RBI, Javier Robles 3RHR, O-Michael Taylor 2-4, Luis Alfonso Garcia PH 2R1B

SATURDAY, October 31
Mexicali 8, Hermosillo 4
MX-Adam Rosales 2-4/3B/3RBI, Matt Camp 2-4/2B/2R, H-Luis Alfonso Garcia 2 2RHRs
Mazatlan 3, Culiacan 2
MZ-Christian Quintero 3-4/2B/RBI, Ruben Rivera HR. C-Mike Cervenak 2B/RBI
Los Mochis 4, Guasave 3 (10)
LM-Ramon Orantes GWHR B10, Sandy Madera HR, Edgar Quintero HR, G-Jose Rodriguez HR, Eduardo Arredondo HR
Obregon 10, Navojoa 5
O-Said Gutierrez 2-4/3RHR/5RBI, John Mayberry Jr. 3-5/R/3RBI, N-Reid Gorecki 3-4/3B/4R, Adan Munoz 2-5/2B/2RBI

SUNDAY, November 1
Hermosillo 4, Mexicali 3
H-Darnell McDonald & Humberto Cota B2B HRs, Miguel Ramirez 6IP/2R, MX-Emmanuel Valdez 2-4/HR
Mazatlan 7, Culiacan 3
MZ-Rogelio Noris 3H/HR, Roberto Saucedo HR, C-Victor Bojorquez 2-2/RBI
Guasave 6, Los Mochis 5 (10)
G-Gabriel Gutierrez 2-4/2B/2RBI, Mario Valdez HR/2R/RBI, LM-Sandy Madera 3-5/2HRs, Ramon Orantes 2-4/2B/2RBI
Obregon 7, Navojoa 6
O-Neil Sellers 2-4/2B/2RBI, Carlos Valencia 2RHR, N-Reid Gorecki 2-4/3RHR

TUESDAY, November 3
Navojoa 1, Los Mochis 0
N-Brian Adams 7IP/0R/3H, Matt Young 1B/R, LM-Carlos Orrantia 2-4, Jesus Sanchez 7IP/3H/6BB/1R
Obregon 4, Guasave 1
O-Flavio Romero 3-4/R/RBI, Bryan Corey 7IP/1R/8H, G-Mario Valdez 3-4/HR
Hermosillo 6, Culiacan 3
H-Trent Oeltgen 3-4/3B/2R/RBI, Humberto Cota 2B/3RBI, C-Mike Cervenak HR, Mike McCoy HR
Mexicali 6, Mazatlan 2
MX-Matt Camp 2-5/2RBI, Oscar Rivera 5.1IP/1R/3H, MZ-Rogelios Noris 2-4, Christian Quintero 2B/R

WEDNESDAY, November 4
Navojoa 14, Los Mochis 8
N-Matt Young 2-4/3R/3RBI, Jesus Vega 2-4/HR/3RBI, LM-Sandy Madera 2-4/HR/3RBI, Saul Soto HR
Obregon 4, Guasave 3
O-Luis Mendoza 5.2IP/1R/4H, John Mayberry Jr. 2-4/HR/3RBI, G-Mario Valenzuela 3-4/2R, Jose Rodriguez HR
Culiacan 3, Hermosillo 2 (11)
C-Luis Cruz 2-5/GW1B, Max Leon 2-5/HR, H-Geronimo Gil 3-5/2 2Bs/RBI, Trent Oeltgen 2-5/2B/R
Mazatlan 6, Mexicali 3
MZ-Christian Quintero 3-4/3R, Ruben Rivera HR/3RBI, MX-Bryan Snyder 2-4/HR, Gonzalo Meza 3-4/R

THURSDAY, November 5
Navojoa 4, Los Mochis 3
N-Matt Young 2R2B, Reid Gorecki 2-4/R/RBI, LM-Saul Soto 2-5/2B/R/RBI, Paul Llano HR
Guasave 9, Obregon 3
G-Jose Rodriguez 2-4/2B/HR/3RBI, Mario Valdez 3RHR, O-John Mayberry Jr. 2-4/HR, Neil Sellers HR
Hermosillo 5, Culiacan 2
H-Sergio Perez 2-4/2RBI, Humberto Cota 2RHR, C-Dee Brown 3-5/2B/RBI, Luis Cruz 2-3/2B/RBI
Mazatlan 2, Mexicali 1
MZ-Christian Quintero RBI3B, Alfonso Sanchez 7IP/1R/5H, MX-Enrique Quintanilla 6IP/1R/4H, Brad Snyder 2-4

UPCOMING MEXICAN PACIFIC LEAGUE GAMES
NOV. 10-12 Mazatlan @ Obregon, Navojoa @ Culiacan, Guasave @ Hermosillo, Mexicali @ Los Mochis
NOV. 13-15 Mavojoa @ Mazatlan, Obregon @ Hermosillo, Guasave @ Mexicali, Los Mochis @ Culiacan

MEXICAN BASEBALL ROAD TRIP (Stop #6): Obregon, Sonora

We’ll continue our journey through Mex Pac cities by heading north on Highway 15 from Navojoa to Ciudad Obregon, Sonora’s second largest city with a population of 450,000. While the city itself is less than 100 years old, the area it sits in had long been settled by the Yaqui Indian nation after whom the local baseball team was named. Originally known as Cajeme when it was given municipal status in 1927, the city was renamed in 1937 after Revolution hero General Alvaro Obregon, a Navojoa native who later became president of Mexico and initiated modern agricultural techniques to the Yaqui Valley that made the region one of the most prosperous in the country. In fact, the area is called Mexico’s grain provider thanks to wheat growing standards partly established by Nobel Prize-winning scientist Dr. Norman Bourlaug from America.

Present-day Obregon is the agribusiness center of a region whose countryside is liberally dotted with grain elevators, storage silos and cotton mills. While it is a working city and not tourism-oriented, there are some points of interest for visitors to take in. Laguna Nainari just west of town is a popular lagoon with restaurants, picnic areas and boats for water-skiing, while the nearby San Jose Beach features a spa. South of Laguna Nainari is the Parque Ostimuri, a tree-lined park geared towards young people (and the young at heart) with an amusement park, several refreshment stands and a zoo with animals ranging from deer and boars to turtles and gila monsters. The Museo del Yaquis celebrates the history of the valley and is doing its part to keep the culture of the Yaqui people alive. Moreover, the Mexican government has declared the Yaquis the only recognized tribe in the country, allowing them to continue their traditions (including their own government). There are four institutes of higher education in Obregon, and the local airport receives flight from 13 Mexican and four U.S. cities (Los Angeles, Phoenix, Tucson and Houston).

The Obregon Yaquis of the Mexican Pacific League play their home games in Estadio Tomas Oroz Gaytan, a 10,000-seat ballpark named after a state public works treasurer who helped provide funding for its construction. In fact, the ballparks in both Obregon and Hermosillo opened on October 8, 1970 and are virtually identical to each other. Past Obregon players include Willie May Aikens, Aurelio Rodriguez, Jerry Turner, Enrique Romo and Vinny Castilla (whose number has been retired). The Yaquis have won four MexPac pennants since their first season in 1958-59, playing in three Caribbean Series.


NEXT WEEK (Stop #7): Hermosillo, Sonora