Wednesday, December 23, 2009


The Mazatlan Venados have overcome a poor start to the second half of the Mexican Pacific League season to move into a tie with Navojoa for fourth place in the LMP standings after spending much time occupying the cellar. Lorenzo Bundy’s defending champions have been able to rest several of their key players while also bringing in San Diego Padres second baseman Edgar Gonzalez. Gonzalez has hit .275 over his first 14 games for Mazatlan, a marked improvement over Hector Garanzuay, a steady fielder but only a .217 batter this winter.

Meanwhile, the LMP second half title won’t be decided until next week. Hermosillo and Culiacan continue to battle for first place and the eight points that come with it. The Naranjeros are 17-10 while the Tomateros have a 16-10 record. It might be wise to keep an eye on Obregon, too. Obregon is two games out of first at 15-12 after winning seven of their previous ten games, and the Yaquis will have a chance to determine their own destiny when they close the regular season with three games in Hermosillo.


Pitcher Alfredo Aceves has gotten the go-ahead from the world champion New York Yankees to pitch for the Culiacan Tomateros this season after first being told no. Aceves, who went 10-1 last summer for the Yankees, had initially asked New York management if he might pitch for Culiacan this winter, but the organization wanted him to remain shut down until spring training opens in Tampa next February.

However, the Tomateros were able to work things out with the Yankees so that Aceves could pitch for the team the rest of the season. Culiacan president Juan Manuel Ley was quoted on the outstanding Puro Beisbol website as saying, “The arrival of Alfredo is due to the good relations that have been cultivated with the Yankees organization.”

Part of the agreement between New York and Culiacan is that Aceves will be a starting pitcher for the Tomateros. He’s already thrown in two simulated games, and is expected to make his Mex Pac season debut against Navojoa in the final series of the regular season.


The Los Tuxtlas Brujos turned in the best regular season record in the Veracruz Winter League, going 32-6 to finish nine games ahead of the 24-16 Xalapa Chileros in the eight-team overall standings. The Brujos then won their first round playoff series over the Minatitlan Gavilanes, 3 games to 1, to advance to the semifinals. Xalapa outlasted the Soledad Toros, 3-2, in their series to advance to the LIV final four, and the Cordoba Cafeteros slipped by the Santa Rosa Gallos, 3 games to 2. The three first round winners will advance in the postseason, as will the “lucky loser” team who showed best in their first round defeat.

Jorge Luis Delgado of Cosamaloapan won the Veracruzana batting title with a .368 average. Santa Rosa import Jayson Bass led the circuit with seven homers, while teammate Ricardo Vasquez and Tuxtlas’ Omar Bramasco tied for the RBI title with 31 ribbies apiece.

The Brujos’ Guadalupe Perez turned in a 7-0 record to lead all pitchers in wins. Perez’ Tuxtlas mound mate, Daniel Perez, took the ERA title with a 1.51 mark over 41 innings, while Soledad’s Aaron Acosta won the strikeout crown with 38 in 53 frames.


1} HERMOSILLO NARANJEROS (17-10/.630/0.0GB/6.0Pts)
Hermosillo has won six of their last 10 games to maintain their half-game lead over Culiacan in the second half pennant title chase.

Ex-major leaguer Karim Garcia has hit well since returning from Korea, batting .356 in 11 games, and Luis Alfonso Garcia continues to lead the LMP with 21 homers to go with his 52 RBIs and .268 batting average. Aussie Travis Blackley has pitched very well in his six starts, going 4-1 with a 2.79 ERA.

2} CULIACAN TOMATEROS (16-10/.615/0.5GB/3.0Pts)
Culiacan has kept pace with the leaders by winning six of their last 10 games, including an 8-4 record away from home, after a horrendous first half.

Phillies prospect Mike Cervenak is hitting .353 with 10 homers and 45 RBIs, but also has 10 errors at third base. Part-timer Jorge Vazquez is hitting just .250, but has 11 homers in 112 at-bats. Hector Rodriguez has become the top Tomateros starter with a 4-1 record and 2.17 ERA in 10 starts.

3} OBREGON YAQUIS (15-12/.556/2.0GB/5.0Pts)
Despite having the Philadelphia Phillies pull prospects Michael Taylor and John Mayberry Jr. back to the USA earlier this year, Obregon has stayed in contention thanks in part to Mexican mainstays Erubiel Durazo, Carlos Valencia and Luis Mendoza.

Durazo is hitting .326 (with an OBP of .492) in 28 games, while Valencia has a .300 average, 14 homers and a league-high 58 RBIs. Mendoza is 7-3 with a 2.64 ERA, leading the LMP with 78 strikeouts.

4T} MAZATLAN VENADOS (13-14/.481/4.0GB/8Pts)
Mazatlan has quietly climbed from eighth place to fourth over the past two weeks, winning nine of 13 games since December 13 (including a three-game sweep of Los Mochis last weekend).

Jon Weber continues to pound LMP pitchers with a .394 average while John Lindsey (.318) and Ruben Rivera have combined for 21 homers and 86 RBIs, but the biggest story continues to be Venados pitcher Pablo Ortega, who is 8-2 and leads the league in both wins and a 2.40 ERA in his standout year.

4T} NAVOJOA MAYOS (13-14/.481/4.0GB/4.5Pts)
At first blush, it’s hard to see how Navajoa has remained in the first division. They have just one .300 batter in Matt Young, who’s hitting .324 with 7 homers and 20 stolen bases; and their only starting pitcher with an ERA under 4.00 is Tim Gustafson, who is 5-1 with a .293 ERA in 9 starts.

Adan Munoz leads the Mayos with 8 homers and 45 RBIs, but has had little help in the batting order or on the mound. Manager Orlando Sanchez deserves kudos for keeping this team near .500.

6} GUASAVE ALGODONEROS (13-15/.464/4.5GB/3.5Pts)
Guasave has struggled for wins all year long, which is what happens when you have a weak batting order trying to help mediocre pitchers. The Algodoneros are a longshot for the playoffs.

Dutch National Team infielder Yurendell de Caster has hit .380 in 20 games while Juan Rodriguez has had some timely hits en route to a .283 average and a team-high 8 homers and 36 RBIs. Francisco Cordova has managed a 6-4 record in 13 starts, but this just hasn’t been Guasave’s year.

7} MEXICALI AGUILAS (11-16/.407/6.0GB/7.0Pts)
One of the mysteries of this Mex Pac season is how Mexicali has the league’s best offense with a .304 batting average and serviceable (if undistinguished) pitching, yet is fighting to stay out of last place.

A possible answer is the callback of outfielders Brad Snyder and Matt Camp (hitting .380 and .333, respectively) by the Chicago Cubs in mid-December. Although batters like Jose Amador, Roman Pena and Emmanuel Valdez remain, Mexicali has not recovered. Welcome to winter league ball.

8} LOS MOCHIS CANEROS (10-17/.370/7.0/4.0Pts)
Along with Guasave, Los Mochis is in danger of having their season slip away. The Caneros are in last place after losing eight of their last ten games.

After slipping below .400 briefly, Sandy Madera has gone on a 9-for-22 tear to bring his league-leading average back up to .407. Madera also has 14 homers. Saul Soto is hitting .310 with 13 homers and 42 RBIs, but the Caneros just don’t have the pitching.

MEXICAN PACIFIC LEAGUE Results (12-18-09 through 12-24-09)

FRIDAY, December 18
Navojoa 10, Obregon 1
Scott Thorman homered and drove in 3 runs while Reid Gorecki scored twice for the Mayos.
Guasave 5, Culiacan 1
Jose Rodriguez went 4-for-5 with a homer and 2 runs for the Algodoneros while Francisco Mendez added 2 RBIs.
Mexicali 12, Hermosillo 7
Emmanuel Valdez singled, doubled and homered to drive in 3 runs for Mexicali, who also got 4 hits from Oscar Robles.
Mazatlan 6, Los Mochis 5 (11)
Miguel Ojeda stroked a walk-off single in the bottom of the 11th inning for his 3rd hit and 4th RBI of the night for Mazatlan.

SATURDAY, December 19
Obregon 4, Navojoa 1
LMP strikeouts leader Luis Mendoza whiffed 8 Mayos and let in just 1 run over 7 innings for the Yaquis win.
Culiacan 5, Guasave 4
Yankees farmhand homered twice and Mike Cervenak sliced 3 singles to give the Tomateros their 7th win in their last 10 games.
Hermosillo 5, Mexicali 3
Naranjeros’ leadoff batter Chris Roberson singled twice and scored 2 runs and catcher Geronimo Gil added 2 singles.
Mazatlan 4, Los Mochis 2
Jon Weber went 3-for-4 with a run for the Venados while defending LMP batting champ Christian Quintero had 2 hits and 2 RBIs.

SUNDAY, December 20
Obregon 3, Navojoa 0
Yaquis starter Brian Mazone lowered his ERA to 0.82 with 6 shutout innings as Agustin Murillo and Flavio Romero each had 2 hits.
Guasave 6, Culiacan 2
Francisco Cordova allowed 1 run with 6 Ks over 7 innings for Guasave. Jesus Cota and Refugio Cervantes homered for Culiacan.
Hermosillo 8, Mexicali 2
Geronimo Gil’s homer keyed a 7-run second inning for Hermosillo as Juan Delgadillo lifted his record to 6-4 with 6 strong frames.
Mazatlan 4, Los Mochis 0
Walter Silva sparkled in 7 scoreless innings and Reid Brignac had 2 hits, a run and an RBI as the Venados won their third straight.

MONDAY, December 21
Obregon 10, Guasave 5
Agustin Murillo drove in 3 runs on 2 hits for Obregon as Yaquis starter Marco Quevedo allowed 1 earned run in 6.1 innings.

TUESDAY, December 22
Obregon 2, Guasave 1
Yaquis pitcher Bobby Evans let in 1 run on 4 hits over 7 innings while James Tomlin collected 2 hits and scored go-ahead run.
Culiacan 8, Hermosillo 3
Adan Amezcua’s 2-run double highlighted Tomateros’ 5-run 1st inning as Culiacan overtook Hermosillo for LMP standings lead.
Los Mochis 1, Navojoa 0
Alberto Castillo struck out 9 Mayos in 7.1 shutout innings, but it was Edgar Quintero’s walk-off homer that won game for Caneros.

WEDNESDAY, December 23
Hermosillo 9, Culiacan 4
Humberto Cota went 3-for-4 with a homer, 2 runs and 2 RBIs while Nelson Teilon added 3 hits (including a homer) for Hermosillo.
Los Mochis 4, Navojoa 1
Arturo Lopez tossed 6 innings of 1-run,6-hit ball for Caneros as Carlos Sievers went 3-for-3 with 2 RBIs.

THURSDAY, December 24
No games scheduled

DEC. 25 Mexicali at Mazatlan
DEC. 26 Hermosillo at Culiacan, Mexicali at Mazatlan, Navojoa at Los Mochis
DEC. 27 Mexicali at Mazatlan, Guasave at Obregon
DEC. 28-30 Culiacan at Navojoa, Mazatlan at Guasave, Obregon at Hermosillo, Los Mochis at Mexicali

MEXICAN BASEBALL ROAD TRIP (Stop #13): Reynosa, Tamaulipas

Our Road Trip this week takes us eastbound from Nuevo Laredo on Highway 2 along the Rio Grande to Reynosa, Tamaulipas, which is located across the Rio Grande from McAllen, Texas. According to the 2005 census, Reynosa's population was 507,998 for the city.

Reynosa was founded on March 14, 1749 with 297 inhabitants by Carlos Cantú under the command of the Count of Sierra Gorda, Jose de Escandon. However, due to flooding in the area on July 4, 1802, they decided to move five miles to the east while keeping the same margin between them and the Rio Grande. It was not until 1926 that the state government recognized Reynosa as a city.

It was first named Villa de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe de Reynosa. The pioneers of the town all came from from El Nuevo Reino de León, especially from Monterrey, Cadereyta, Cerralvo and El Pilón. The town originally was composed of 50 families, and was given the name of Reynosa as a tribute to a town with the same name in Spain. From 1846 until 1848, the township was captured and temporarily held by the United States Army during the War of Texas until it was permanently ceded to Mexico and the border between the two countries redrawn along the Rio Grande.

Reynosa extends across 1,219 square miles, representing 3.7 per cent of the Tamaulipas territory. Today it is the location of several satellite U.S. companies doing business to take advantage of low labor rates, sparse benefits and industry incentives (as is the case in so many Mexican cities along the border. The township and area have been featured in the news due to the reported discovery of the largest seized weapons cache in Mexican drug cartel history.

The Reynosa Broncos are a Mexican League team that plays its home games in 10,000-seat Estadio Adolfo Lopez Mateos. Reynosa has won one pennant in their history by copping the flag in 1969 by topping Monterrey in the finals, but lost in seven games to the Mexico City Diablos Rojos in 1981 for the only other time it has played in the LMB championship series. That set was unique in Mexican baseball history in that despite the series going the full seven games, neither team won a single home game.

The Broncos finished the 2009 regular season with a 58-47 record to qualify for the playoffs. Reynosa won two of the first three games in their Northern Zone semifinal series with Saltillo, but then dropped three contests in a row to the eventual Liga champions to be eliminated from the postseason.

NEXT ROAD TRIP STOP (#14): Monterrey, Nuevo Leon

Saturday, December 19, 2009


The Culiacan Tomateros and Hermosillo Naranjeros are just a half-game apart on top of the Mexican Pacific League’s second half standings with just nine games left on the schedule.
Culiacan leads the Mex Pac with a 15-8 record, just ahead of 15-9 Hermosillo. Obregon is third at 12-11, Navojoa is 12-12 and holds fourth, Guasave is in fifth with an 11-13 mark, while Mexicali, Los Mochis and first half champion Mazatlan are tied for sixth with 10-14 records.

Sandy Madera (pictured) continues to top the LMP with a .399 batting average. Jon Weber, who joined Mazatlan 20 games into the season, is right behind at .398. Hermosillo’s Luis Alfonso Garcia has all but locked up the homer title with 20 longballs, six head of Madera and Obregon’s Carlos Valencia. Valencia leads in RBIs with 55, while Mexicali’s Brad Snyder is next with 47.

Among pitchers, Mazatlan’s Pablo Ortega continues his lights-out season for the Venados with an 8-2 record and 2.09 ERA, leading the Mex Pac in both wins and ERA. Luis Mendoza leads the circuit by a wide margin in strikeouts with 70 Ks in 78 innings, while Mazatlan closer Gabe de Hoyos is tops in saves with 12 despite having only one save for the Venados since November 17.


The Culiacan Tomateros have activated major league veteran pitcher Rodrigo Lopez, who spent part of the past summer with the National League champion Philadelphia Phillies.

Lopez was signed out of the Mexican League as a 19-year-old by San Diego in 1995 and worked his way up to the big club, making his big league debut with the Padres in 2000. After becoming a free agent following the 2001 season, Lopez signed on with the Baltimore Orioles, for whom he went 15-9 and was runner up in American League Rookie of the Year balloting in 2002. He won 36 more games for Baltimore over the next three seasons, but was eventually traded to Colorado in 2007. In August of that season, the Veracruz native underwent Tommy John surgery and later became a free agent.

He inked a minor league deal with the Phillies last March and eventually was called up from Class AAA Lehigh Valley to Philadelphia on July 3, starting against and beating the New York Mets, 7-2, that same night for his first big league win in nearly two years. Lopez, who has a 68-66 MLB career record, was released by the Phils in September.

After going 1-2 with a 4.55 ERA for Culiacan last season, Lopez has won both times he’s pitched this winter thus far.


2009 Mexican League Most Valuable Player Dionys Cesar has signed a contract with the Chunichi Dragons of Japan’s Central League for next year.
The Dominican infielder moves to the Land of the Rising Sun after spending most of the past five summers in Mexico.The 33-year-old Cesar, a 15-year pro baseball veteran who has played minor league ball for four different major league organizations, helped the Laguna Vaqueros to their first playoff berth in five seasons this year by leading the Liga with a .380 batting average, 36 doubles and 40 stolen bases after starting the season hitting .288 in 19 games for Yuma in the independent Golden Baseball League.

Cesar's signing is rather unusual because Japanese teams historically import power hitters from the Americas. Last summer, Cesar hit just five homers for Laguna.


At this month’s Baseball Winter Meetings in Indianapolis, Mexican League president Plinio Escalante (pictured) gave the Nuevo Laredo Tecolotes one week to clarify their ownership situation the Liga’s satisfaction, or risk losing the border city’s slot in the LMB schedule for the 2010 season.

Earlier this year at a league meeting in Puebla, Escalante said that both Nuevo Laredo and Chihuahua needed to straighten out their management and financial problems before proceeding with plans to play next year. Although Chihuahua was rumored to be the possible target of a sale and move to Chiapas, the Dorados appear to have found local investors and will likely stay put in 2010. The situation has not been resolved in Nuevo Laredo, however, and Escalante put a December 15 deadline for the Tecos to get their house in order.

One other ownership situation appears to have been resolved when it was announced that Carlos Peralta will keep the Quintana Roo Tigres in Cancun after seeking to sell the team his family has owned for over 50 years to local investors. None were found.

Liga owners also announced the 2010 season will once again consist of 107-game schedules, with each club playing only against other squads within their eight-team divisions. As in 2009, the top four teams from each division will advance to the playoffs.


Two more Mexican League managerial openings have been filled. The Mexico City Diablos Rojos and Chihuahua Dorados both announced new skippers last week.

Mexico City has chosen Max “Mako” Oliveras as their new manager. The 63-year-old Santurce, Puerto Rico native played seven year of minor league ball before replacing Fred Hatfield as manager of the independent Miami Marlins in the Class A Florida State League in 1986. The following year, Oliveras was hired by the California Angels organization, where he managed for six seasons before becoming a coach in Anaheim in 1994. Oliveras moved to the Chicago Cubs coaching staff, where he served between 1995 and 1997. He’s managed in the minors ever since, spending 2009 with Binghamton of the Class AA Eastern League.

Salon de la Fama member Francisco “Chico” Rodriguez is taking the helm in Chihuahua. The older brother of the late Aurelio Rodriguez, a former MLB third baseman who is also enshrined in Monterrey, Chico Rodriguez spent 20 seasons playing in the Mexican League, hitting .270 with 2,186 hits (including 330 doubles) for the Mexico City Tigres, Veracruz Aguilas, and Aguascalientes Rieleros before retiring in 1985. Rodriguez has also managed both the Aguilas and Rieleros, but has not led a Liga team in over 20 years. He became a Salon member in 2004, nine years after his brother Aurelio was so honored.


New York Yankees pitcher Alfredo Aceves was on hand to help open the 47th season of the Liga Olmeca youth baseball and softball league in Mexico City this month. Aceves, who turned in a 10-1 record with a 3.54 ERA out of the bullpen for the World Champions this year, threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the inauguration, then stayed for hours until signing every autograph request.

The native of the Sonora city of San Luis Rio Colorado spoke with the hundreds of youngsters in attendance, encouraging them to work hard at becoming better ballplayers with a goal of making it to the majors as he himself has done. Aceves spent six seasons in the Mexican League pitching for Yucatan and Monterrey before Yankees scout Lee Sigman convinced the Bronx Bombers to purchase him from the Sultanes in 2008.

Sigman was in Mexico City for the Liga Olmeca opener along with fellow Yankees scout Carlos Fragoso, World Boxing Council president Jose Sulaiman, Mexico’s 1984 Summer Olympic gold medal race walker Raul Gonzalez, and Liga Olmeca president Carlos Islava.

MEXICAN PACIFIC LEAGUE Results (12-11-09 through 12-17-09)

FRIDAY, December 11
Culiacan 6, Los Mochis 3
Jorge Vazquez hit a 3-run homer in 4-run first for Tomateros as starter Rodrigo Lopez gave up 1 run and 3 hits in 5 innings.
Hermosillo 7, Obregon 1
Travis Blackley went 7 innings and allowed 1 run on 4 hits with 8 Ks and Humberto Cota was 4 for 5 with HR for Hermosillo.
Mazatlan 4, Navojoa 3
Edgar Gonzalez, Jon Weber and Christian Quintero all swatted solo homers for Venados. Edgar Osuna tossed 5.2 innings for win.
Guasave 7, Mexicali 6 (10)
Japhet Amador smacked 2 homers and drove in 3 runs, but it was Mario Valenzuela’s sacrifice fly that gave Guasave the victory.

SATURDAY, December 12
Los Mochis 6, Culiacan 5
Sandy Madera’s walk-off single in the 9th was the difference maker for the Caneros as Madera raised his LMP-best average to .414.
Obregon 5, Hermosillo 2
Carlos Valencia pounded two homers and Mauricio Lara struck out 6 batters over 5 innings to snap the Yaquis’ 3-game losing skid.
Navojoa 5, Mazatlan 3
Mayos outfielder Matt Young was 3-for-4 with a run and RBI, while Mariano Gomez pitched two scoreless innings in relief.
Guasave 8, Mexicali 7
Another nailbiter for Guasave, as Francisco Mendez’ walk-off single capped a 3-run 9th after Mexicali scored 5 in the top of the 9th.

SUNDAY, December 13
Culiacan 4, Los Mochis 1
Luis Cruz homered for the second night in a row, finishing with 3 hits, 2 runs and 2 RBIs as the Tomateros triumphed over Mochis.
Obregon 9, Hermosillo 1
Luis Mendoza let in 1 run over 8 innings for his 6th win for Obregon as OF James Tomlin registered 4 hits (including a homer).
Mazatlan 7, Navojoa 4
Ruben Rivera had 2 doubles, a single and scored twice for Mazatlan, who also got a 2-run homer from John Lindsey.
Mexicali 9, Guasave 5
Brad Snyder tripled and drove in two runs while Adam Rosales doubled and scored 3 times for the Aguilas, who avoided the sweep.

TUESDAY, December 15
Guasave 8, Hermosillo 2
Yurendell de Caster and Gabriel Gutierrez combined for 4 doubles, 3, runs and 3 RBIs for the Algodoneros in the series opener.
Mexicali 9, Los Mochis 6
Adam Rosales hit a homer while Matt Camp scored 3 times for the Aguilas, who’ve scored 32 runs over their last 4 games.
Culiacan 3, Navojoa 2 (11)
Ramiro Pena scored the game-winning run on Jorge Vazquez’ walkoff single to give reliever Arturo Barradas the win.
Obregon 10, Mazatlan 1
Carlos Valencia was 3-for-4 with a homer and 3 RBIs for Obregon as Brian Mazone pitched 7 strong innings to go to 2-0 in 3 starts.

WEDNESDAY, December 16
Nermosillo 4, Guasave 3
Chris Roberson slammed a walk-off 2-run homer for the Naranjeros, who got 6 innings of shutout pitching from Francisco Campos.
Los Mochis 4, Mexicali 3
Hector Hernandez’ 2-run triple in the bottom of the 9th iced the comeback victory for the Caneros.
Culiacan 4, Navojoa 3
Jorge Campillo was solid for the Tomateros, letting in 2 runs on 4 hits in 6 innings. Brian Adams allowed 1 run in 7 IP for Mayos.
Mazatlan 7, Obregon 3
Venados’ Jon Weber went 4-for-5 with 2 homers to raise his average to .394 as Esteban Loaiza went 7 innings for his 4th win.

THURSDAY, December 17
Nermosillo 8, Guasave 3
Luis Alfonso Garcia’s 2 homers and 3 RBIs (along with Geronimo Gil’s 2-run shot) aided the Orangemen win over Guasave.
Mexicali 4, Los Mochis
Matt Camp hit a 3-run homer and starter Andy SIsco gave up one hit (a Christian Quintero homer) over 3 innings for the Aguilas.
Navojoa 6, Culiacan 1
Matt Young was 3-for-4 with a solo homer, an RBI double and scored 3 runs as Oswaldo Verdugo let in 1 run in 5.2 innings.
Obregon 4, Mazatlan 3
Flavio Romero’s walk-off single drove in Hernando Arredondo with the winning run as the Yaquis took the series, 2 games to 1.

DEC. 18-19-20 Culiacan at Guasave, Obregon at Navojoa, Hermosillo at Mexicali, Los Mochis at Mazatlan
DEC. 21-22-27 Guasave at Obregon
DEC. 22-23-26 Hermosillo at Culiacan, Navojoa at Los Mochis
DEC. 25-26-27 Mexicali at Mazatlan

MEXICAN BASEBALL ROAD TRIP (Stop #12): Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas

The 12th leg of our Road Trip takes us north from Monclova on Highway 57 to the town of Sabinas (a Mexican League city in the early 1970’s), where we’ll then head east on Highway 22 to Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, home of the Tecolotes. Nuevo Laredo sits directly across from Laredo, Texas on the Mexico-USA border, where only the fabled Rio Grande separates the two cities (and countries).

The Laredo region’s history dates back to 1755, when Spaniard Don Tomas Sanchez founded the original settlement. The territory and its population remain united for nearly a century until the war between Mexico and the United States resulted in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which partitioned Laredo between the two countries via the Rio Grande. Present-day Nuevo Laredo was founded in 1848 by 17 families who remained loyal to Mexico and moved south of the river, even taking the remains of their ancestors so they might continue to rest in Mexican ground.

Nuevo Laredo has evolved into the most important trade border crossing in all of Latin America, with about 8,500 trucks crossing the border daily. The location of the city of 350,000 is almost perfect for international commerce, as it sits on the primary trade route between Mexico, the USA and Canada and is the only city on the Mexico-USA border strategically positioned at the convergence of all ground transportation systems. Seventy percent of all Mexican exports to North America travel through Nuevo Laredo, which is considered to be the largest inland port in Latin America.

Although the drug wars that have affected nearly all Mexican border cities are a present plague on Nuevo Laredo, there is still an active educational and cultural side to Nuevo Laredo. The city is home to six universities, four of which have strong emphases on business administration and technology trades while the other two are teacher’s colleges. There are three main theaters in town: the Centro Cultural, Teatro de la Ciudad and the Casa de Cultura, which all feature diverse fares such as music, plays, dance recitals, films and other forms of artistic expression. The major park in Nuevo Laredo is Parque Viveros, a 124-acre forest park overlooking the Rio Grande and housing a zoo, two swimming pools, walking trails and a picnic area with barbeque pits.

Nuevo Laredo is home to the Mexican League Tecolotes (or “Owls”), who returned to the city in 2008 after a four-year stay in Tijuana. Baseball has a long history in the Laredo region, where some claim the game was first played in Mexico. Nuevo Laredo has hosted five Mexican League pennant winners since 1945, with the last Liga flag coming in 1993. The team plays its home games at a 12,000-seat ballpark in the Ciudad Deportiva complex. For a number of years in the 1980s and 1990s, the Tecos split their home games between Nuevo Laredo and Laredo, becoming the only pro baseball team ever to share its home games between cities two countries.

NEXT ROAD TRIP STOP (#13): Reynosa, Tamaulipas

Saturday, December 12, 2009


This week, we bring you the text of our exclusive interview with Omar Canizales, the first-year president of the Mexican Pacific League. To our knowledge, it’s the first interview Mr. Canizales has given in English.
Our apologies for not having audio on the BBM radio program due to technical matters beyond our control…

BBM: How did you become President of the LMP, Mr. Canizales?

Since I used to work as the National Sponsorships Director for the FEMSA Brewing Company, which is one Mexico’s top two beer companies and owner of the “Tecate” beer brand, I knew the League, the clubs, and most of the LMP Presidents. This was the key for being invited as one of several candidates nominated for the league’s presidency.

I was one of five candidates who were invited to introduce ourselves during a LMP Presidents meeting. Each one of us presented his curriculum and related experience. I made my presentation specifically over the marketing, sports and commercial areas, plus I added a Power Point slide show that illustrated a brief personal vision about what I thought the LMP should be. After that, I was elected as LMP President on May Seventh of this year.

BBM: What are your duties as LMP President?

To keep and enforce every rule and regulation governing the league, making sure all the associated clubs comply with them;

To administer in the most clear and efficient way all the financial and operative resources of the League;

To reach new commercial goals for the league and its clubs and improve the attendance at the ballparks in a coordinated work with every club;

To represent the Mexican Pacific League before organizations such as Major League Baseball and the Caribbean Baseball Confederation and to defend the interests of our eight associated clubs;

And to promote and disseminate the League and its clubs’ achievements in the most accurate way.

BBM: There have been very few LMP franchise moves from one city to another for many years. How has the Mex Pac been such a stable league?

First of all, the league is composed of presidents with a high moral value and with the economic solvency capable of facing the costs of maintaining a franchise in the Mexican Pacific League.
Also, they understand their social responsibility with the communities where they have a presence. And, of course, all of this comes tied up with a high-level sporting spectacle, of which its strong fan-based structure is very proud.

BBM: Are there any rules or requirements that franchises must meet to keep an LMP team in their city, or to move a team to another city?

Basically, every franchise has to keep all the rules and regulations governing the league. They also have to maintain a highly competitive team at the very same level with every other franchise. The clubs must guarantee they will have a ballpark which will comply with professional baseball regulations to play and receive the visiting teams. The franchises must maintain a dignified stadium to greet fans.

But, if by any reason, a franchise wants to move, it is necessary for it to comply with the follow requirements:

First, we must get a formal letter from the State Government where the proposed new city is located, endorsing the relocation project.

Second, we must get a formal letter from the Municipal Government from the proposed new city, endorsing the relocation project.

Finally, there must be an Official Financial and Operative Project proposal that guarantees the capacity to maintain a LMP Franchise.

BBM: There was a preseason tournament in Tijuana this year. Is the LMP thinking of putting a team in Tijuana in the future?

Tijuana is a great city for playing baseball: It is well-located, has a great population, and most important it has a huge base of fans for baseball.

However, the preseason tournament is not necessarily linked to any expansion project. We do not reject this possibility at all, as long as there is a serious project fulfilling all the requirements I commented on previously.

BBM: With no formal affiliations between Major League and LMP teams, how do Mex Pac clubs usually import players from the USA to Mexico?

Actually, we are associated to the Caribbean Baseball Confederation, through which we benefit, as a league, from the Winter League Agreement, signed with Major League Baseball. This agreement sets the terms and conditions that allow us to bring players from any Major League organization, either from a Major League Team or any affiliated Minor league team.

Let me tell you that just a few days ago, the Caribbean Baseball Confederation held a meeting in Puerto Rico where Caribbean League Presidents discussed and agreed upon the terms and conditions that will govern the new Winter League Agreement of the upcoming year’s confederation.

BBM: Has the rise of the Arizona Fall League had an effect on the number and quality of import players coming to play in the LMP?

We have been affected indeed, since some of the Major league organizations send players over there. However the effect is not severe, thanks to the fact that there are still a lot of talented players from MLB organizations that we can get our hands on.

BBM: How important has the TV deal between the Mex Pac and Megacable been in bringing LMP baseball to the rest of Mexico this season?

It has been very important. First of all, it has been great for our project to massively spread information about our league. Second, there’s the fact that our games used to be broadcasted to only three states in Mexico, but nowadays our televised game broadcasts are reaching up to 23 states, which means a huge improvement and better commercialization opportunities, as well. And certainly we are talking about a great economic contract, since it’s the most profitable TV deal ever signed by the LMP.

BBM: Does the LMP do much marketing of the league and its players to the USA, especially states like California, Arizona and Texas?

Not right now, but we are already working on some ideas on what we can do over the next few seasons.

BBM: Have you been able to find a good balance between the time you spend working for the LMP and the time you spend at home with your family?

Yes, I have. You know, the city where I live today allows me to eat my meals at home and attend my daughter’s and son’s events at their school as well as going out for fun with my wife, either to the ballpark or social events. My former jobs demanded a whole lot more business trips. Today I’m very happy with my duties, and the balance I have reached between my work and my family.

BBM: Thanks for joining us, Mr. Canizales. It’s been a pleasure.

Bruce, as President of the Mexican Pacific League, I want to thank you for the coverage you’re giving to our baseball. I also want to thank the people that are following your broadcast for their interest in our league. I want to invite all of you to attend to our games, the next time you visit Mexicali, Hermosillo, Obregón, Navojoa, Los Mochis, Guasave, Culiacán or Mazatlán. You will enjoy a baseball game of a high level, and will experience our “fiesta del béisbol”. Once again, thank you very much. I hope see you soon in our ballparks.


First half champion Mazatlan has had their troubles in the early going of the Mexican Pacific League’s second half, but the Hermosillo Naranjeros are holding off resurgent Culiacan at the top of the Mex Pac standings.

Hermosillo has won 12 of their first 18 games to take a narrow half-game lead over the 11-6 Tomateros, who have turned things around for new manager Francisco Estrada. Navojoa is in third place at 10-8 despite winning just two games last week, while Obregon rounds out the first division at 8-9.

Los Mochis and Guasave are tied for fifth place at 8-10, while Mazatlan and Mexicali are tied for last with 7-11 records. The Venados, who cruised to the first-half title, have already lost more games in the second half than they did while going 25-10 over their first 35 games to take first place by four games. Mazatlan has won three of their last four games, however.


Magallenes, Escogido and Arecibo are all on top of the standings in the Venezuelan, Dominican and Puerto Rican Leagues, respectively, but it hasn’t been easy for any of them.

Magallenes has a 34-18 record to hold a one-game advantage over 33-19 Caracas in the Venezuelan League. Zulia is in third place at 27-25. Lara shortstop Alcedes Escobar leads the league with a .403 batting average, while Margarita pitcher Carlos Monasterios has the most wins with 7 victories in 9 decisions.

Escogido leads the Dominican League at 26-17, but 2008 Caribbean Series champion Licey and the Este Toros are right behind at 25-18. Ex-big leaguer Timo Perez (pictured) leads the LiDom with a .352 batting average for Licey. Perez hit .323 for Veracruz in the Mexican League in 2009. Another MLB vet, Cibaenas’ John Halama, is 4-1 and a league-best 2.45 ERA.

In Puerto Rico, 12-8 Arecibo barely leads 11-8 Carolina in the tables. Carolina catcher Orlando Mercado, Jr. is hitting .429 in 14 games to lead the league, but the best offensive performer has been Arecibo’s Michel Abreu, who tops the circuit with 7 homers and 24 RBIs along with a .343 average. Ponce’s Juan Padilla is 4-0 with a 2.63 ERA in 8 games (2 starts).


Salon de la Fama member Jose “Zacatillo” Guerrero has passed away in Torreon at the age of 83.

Guerrero was a Mexican League star infielder following his debut with Union Laguna in 1949, when he hit .273 in 78 games. After five years in Torreon, he spent three seasons in the United States before returning to Mexico with Monterrey in 1957. Guerrero also played for Puebla and Veracruz before retiring in 1967 although he occasionally took to the field while managing the Mexico City Diablos and Union Laguna. As a player, he batted .301 over 1330 Liga games. Guerrero played winter ball in Puebla, Mazatlan, Los Mochis and Empalme.

The Torreon native also had a long career as a manager between 1970 and 1992, piloting Mexico City, Union Laguna, Juarez, Monterrey and Dos Laredos. He won Mexican League pennants managing Juarez in 1982 and in 1989 with Dos Laredos.

Guerrero, who was considered a class act and exemplary sportsman on and off the field, was enshrined in the Salon in 1989, and his number 49 was retired by Laguna in 2007.


1} HERMOSILLO NARANJEROS (12-6/.667/0.0GB/6.0Pts)
Hermosillo won four of six games last week to maintain first place in the Mex Pac, winning two apiece from Navojoa and Los Mochis.
OF Luis Alfonso Garcia is only batting .254, but his 18 homers are best in the league and his 43 RBIs are tied for second. Naranjeros P Juan Delgadillo is 4-3 with a 3.41 ERA.

2} CULIACAN TOMATEROS (11-6/.647/0.5GB/3.0Pts)
Culiacan kept pace with Hermosillo by winning two games against Mazatlan and registering two wins and a 12-inning tie in Obregon.
3B Mike Cervenak stands third in the LMP with a .361 average, second in RBIs with 43 and fifth in homers with 10. No Tomateros pitcher has more than 3 wins, however.

3} NAVOJOA MAYOS (10-8/.555/2.0GB/4.5Pts)
Navojoa fell out of first place by losing four of six games, including a pair of losses to Hermosillo and two more defeats against Mexicali.
P Tim Gustafson has been outstanding, with a 5-1 record and a 2.93 ERA in 9 starts. OF Matt Young leads the Mayos with a .294 batting average and 16 steals.

4} OBREGON YAQUIS (8-9/.470/3.5GB/5.0Pts)
Obregon won three games in a row against Mexicali, then dropped a pair with Culiacan before ending their series with a 4-4, 12-inning tie against the Tomateros.
DH Erubiel Durazo has hit .321 with 5 homers in 24 games since joining the Yaquis last month. OF John Mayberry Jr. was placed on the disabled list after hitting .313 with 7 homers.

5T} LOS MOCHIS CANEROS (8-10/.444/4.0GB/4.0Pts)
Los Mochis didn’t have the best of weeks, winning once and losing twice to both Guasave and Hermosillo to fall below .500 in the second half.
1B Sandy Madera leads LMP batters with a .414 average in 52 games, but 11 pitchers have started for the Caneros (none has more than 2 wins). There is no stopper in Mochis.

5T} GUASAVE ALGODONEROS (8-10/.444/4.0GB/3.5Pts)
Guasave went 3-3 last week, with the Algodoneros winning two of three against Los Mochis before dropping two out of three contests with Mazatlan.
3B Yurendell de Caster has hit .346 in 13 games, and 1B Japhet Amador is batting .315 in part-time duty. P Jim McGrane is 5-3 with a 3.93 ERA, but has struggled a little of late.

7T} MEXICALI AGUILAS (7-11/.411/5.0GB/7.0Pts)
The top two LMP teams in the first half are tied for last in the second, as Mexicali lost five straight games (including three in a row to Obregon) before taking two from Navajoa.
Four Aguilas are among the LMP’s top six batter (Brad Snyder is at .375). P Kameron Loe is 2-1 over his last 3 starts, including 5 shutout innings against Mazatlan on Nov. 28.

7T} MAZATLAN VENADOS (7-11/.411/5.0GB/8Pts)
Mazatlan got off to a horrible second-half start before winning once in Culiacan and taking two of three at home against Guasave to pull the Venados into a tie for seventh place.1B John Lindsey has hit .312 with 10 homers, while OF Jon Weber has hit .384 over 30 games. P Pablo Ortega has been super (7-2, 2.18), topping the LMP in both wins and ERA.

MEXICAN PACIFIC LEAGUE Results (12/04/09 - 12/10/09)

FRIDAY, December 4
Obregon 2, Mexicali 0
Former International League All-Star Brian Mazone allowed 5 hits over 5 innings for his first win as the Yaquis shut out the Aguilas.
Culiacan 5, Mazatlan 1
Jorge Campillo pitched 4 shutout innings and Jorge Vazquez cracked a 3-run homer for the Tomateros.
Los Mochis 4, Guasave 1
Defending LMP ERA champ Ismael Castillo let in 1 run on 3 hits over 5.2 innings for the Caneros as Saul Soto had 2 RBIs.
Hermosillo 3, Navojoa 1
Francisco “Pancho Ponches” Campos gave up 1 run on 3 hits with 9 strikeouts in 6 innings for the Naranjeros.

SATURDAY, December 5
Obregon 9, Mexicali 2
Carlos Valencia bashed a homer and drove in five runs for Obregon to offset Jose Amador’s 4-for-5 night with a homer for Mexicali.
Culiacan 3, Mazatlan 2
Veteran Juan Carlos Canizalez drew a bases-loaded bases on balls in the bottom of the 9th in a true “walkoff” for the Tomateros.
Guasave 9, Los Mochis 0
Oscar Bustillos combined with two relievers on a two-hit shutout as Japhet Amador was 4-for-5 with a solo homer for the Cottoneers.
Nermosillo 7, Navojoa 2
Travis Blackley whiffed 7 batters in 5.2 strong innings for Hermosillo while Geronimo Gil and Humberto Cota each had 2 RBIs.

SUNDAY, December 6
Obregon 6, Mexicali 5
Jason Botts had a homer and 3 RBIs and Chris Snelling added a homer as the Yaquis completed their sweep of the Aguilas.
Mazatlan 6, Culiacan 1
John Lindsey had a 2-run homer and Alfonso Sanchez let in 1 run in 6.1 innings as the Venados ended a 3-game losing streak.
Guasave 2, Los Mochis 1
Mac Suzuki let in 2 runs with 7 Ks in 6 shutout innings to beat Mochis’ Arturo Lopez (7 innings, 2 runs) in a pitcher’s duel.
Navojoa 3, Hermosillo 2
Abel Martinez’ 3-run double in the top of the 9th gave the Mayos a win, negating Edgar Gonzalez’ 6 shutout innings for Orangemen.

TUESDAY, December 8
Los Mochis 4, Hermosillo 3
Henry Mateo had 2 hits and scored 3 runs while Luis Suarez added 2 hits and 2 RBIs to lead the Canecutters to the win.
Culiacan 5, Obregon 3
Jorge Vazquez doubled and homered and Adan Amezcua cracked a longball as the Tomateros opened the series with a victory.
Navojoa 9, Mexicali 8
Adan Munoz led off the 9th with a single and later scored the winning run on a wild pitch to hand the Aguilas their 5th straight loss.
Mazatlan 5, Guasave 2
A 4-run seventh inning was the difference for Mazatlan as Reid Brignac doubled and scored twice in his first game for the Deer.

WEDNESDAY, December 9
Hermosillo 8, Los Mochis 7
Vinny Castilla homered in a 4-run 8th and Nelson Teilon added a solo blast for Hermosillo to even the series at a game apiece.
Culiacan 5, Obregon 4
Jorge Vazquez homered for the second game in a row and Ramiro Pena doubled in a run as Culiacan clinched a series win.
Mexicali 8, Navojoa 2
Santiago Gonzalez was 4-for-4 with 4 runs and Adam Rosales scored 3 times as Mexicali finally broke their losing skid.
Guasave 1, Mazatlan 0
Gabriel Gutierrez had both of Guasave’s 2 hits and drove in the game’s only run as Francisco Cordova bested Walter Silva.

THURSDAY, December 10
Hermosillo 6, Los Mochis 5
Geronimo Gil and Jesus Castillo each hit 2-run homers to help the Orangemen win the game and series with Mochis.
Obregon 4, Culiacan 4 (12) tie
Adan Amezcua had an RBI single for the Yaquis in the bottom of the 12th to knot up a game subsequently suspended by curfew.
Mexicali 9, Navojoa 1
Oscar Robles was 4-for-4 with 4 RBIs and Oswaldo Morejon added 4 hits as the Eagles won their second straight and the series.
Mazatlan 5, Guasave 3
John Lindsey homered while Ruben Rivera doubled and scored twice to back starter Esteban Loaiza’s triumph.

DEC. 11-13 Mazatlan @ Navojoa, Culiacan @ Los Mochis, Hermosillo @ Obregon, Mexicali @ Guasave
DEC. 15-16 Guasave @ Hermosillo, Mazatlan @ Obregon, Mexicali @ Los Mochis, Navojoa @ Culiacan
DEC. 17-19 Los Mochis @ Mazatlan, Culiacan @ Guasave, Hermosillo @ Mexicali, Obregon @ Navojoa

MEXICAN BASEBALL ROAD TRIP (Stop #11): Monclova, Coahuila

This week, our Road Trip is a fairly short jaunt that takes us from Torreon (home of the Laguna Vaqueros) for about 200 miles northeast on Highway 30 to the city of Monclova, Coahuila, home of the Acereros.

Monclova’s history begins with the first of a number of fitful attempts to establish a town under Spanish rule, first under Don Alberto of Canto in 1577. It was only on the seventh attempt that a permanent town was finally created in 1689. It was granted the title of “city” in 1811 and was actually the state capital of both Coahuila and Texas in 1833. The war against the United States of the 1840s gave Texas and several other present-day states to the USA as American troops occupied Monclova (which was initially an agricultural town) in 1846.

However, like most of the northern cities of the Mexican League, Monclova has become an industrial center that is not geared towards tourism at all. As one might expect of a place whose team name translates to “Steelers,” Monclova is one of the leading steel-producing cities in the Western Hemisphere. With just under 200,000 residents, it is one of the smallest cities in the Liga.

Visitors to Monclova will have to look past the factories to find the two Xochipilli Parks that cover 108 acres in town, and there are also golf courses, museums, discos and bowling alleys for recreational opportunities. Again, this is a city geared towards production, not tourists, so don’t expect the widest of choices for entertainment.

Monclova is home to the Mexican League’s Acereros (or “Steelers”), who just hired Mario Mendoza as their manager after finishing 57-50 in 2009 but missed the playoffs. Despite that, Monclova led the Mexican League in attendance last season with over 430,000 fans in 53 home games for an average of 8,114 per opening.

The Acereros play their home games at the 11,000-seat Estadio Monclova, where attendance is usually in the middle of the LMB pack. The Acereros date back to 1974, when the Sabinas Pirates moved to Monclova to become the Coahuila Miners. The team name was changed to Monclova Acereros in the early 1980s. The Steelers have never won a Liga pennant.

NEXT ROAD TRIP STOP (#12): Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas

Friday, December 4, 2009


Former major league shortstop and Salon de la Fama member Mario Mendoza has been hired to manage the Mexican League’s Monclova Acereros for 2010. The Steelers finished a decent 57-50 under Francisco Rodriguez and had the fourth-best record in the Northern Zone last summer, but were nudged out of the playoffs by the Laguna Vaqueros, who had 14.5 points over both halves of the season to Monclova’s 14.

Mendoza, who turns 63 this month, was a big leaguer from 1974 through 1982, batting .215 with four homers. The term “Mendoza Line” was created by statisticians who would cut off the list of hitting leaders after Mendoza’s name because of his light bat. The Chihuahua also carried a light glove, however, and stayed in the majors for nine seasons for his fielding.
Mendoza then went to the Mexican League, where he batted .291 over seven seasons (including two years above .300), and also hit .239 in 986 games in the Mexican Pacific League. Mendoza was enshrined in Monterrey in 2000.

Since retiring as a player, Mendoza has managed in both the Liga and Mex Pac. Monclova will be his ninth managerial stop.


Los Mochis native Juan Castro has signed a one-year contract with the two-time National League champion Philadelphia Phillies for the 2010 season. The 37-year-old infielder spent the past summer as a utility man for the Los Angeles Dodgers, batting .277 in 57 games.

Castro broke into pro ball with the Dodgers organization in 1991, making his major league debut with Los Angeles four years later. He was traded to Cincinnati in 2000 and spent four years with the Reds before bouncing around the majors after 2004. The Phillies will be Castro’s fifth major league team.

Castro’s agent, Oscar Suarez, says the Dodgers and Phils were the free agent’s top two suitors. The career .230 hitter will likely be a backup to Philadelphia shortstop Jimmy Rollins. Castro has played 538 games at short, 251 games at third base and 241 games at second.


The team presidents of the Veracruz Winter League have decided to allow the top six finishers in the regular season to advance to the league playoffs this season. At a meeting in Cordoba last month, the eight team representatives approved a postseason format similar to that of the Mexican Pacific League.

When the schedule is concluded in Veracruz, the top six teams will move on to the first round, with the regular season champion squaring off against the sixth-place team, the runners-up battling the fifth-place finisher, and the third- and fourth-place teams meeting each other in best-of-5 series. All three winners will advance to the semifinals, as will a “wildcard” team that fared best among the three teams losing their respective first round series. The semis and the finals will all be best-of-7 formats, with the top seeds hosting the first two games and (if needed) the final two games of the series.

The LIV regular season will end Sunday, December 13.


Less than a month after his New York Yankees teammates clinched the team’s 27th World Series championship, Ramiro Pena was taking ground balls at shortstop for the Culiacan Tomateros of the Mexican Pacific League. This is the third winter the 24-year-old Monterrey native has played for Culiacan after having hit .315 in 72 games sin two seasons.

Pena was signed by the Yankees as a 19-year-old in 2005 and worked his way up the system until his major league debut for New York on April 6 as a pinch-runner. Three nights later he singled off Baltimore’s Chris Ray in his first MLB plate appearance. When the Yanks picked up veteran Eric Hinske in a trade, Pena was optioned to Class AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on June 29, but was recalled August 7 and remained with the big club the rest of the season. Pena ended up hitting .287 in 69 games for the Yankees, belting his first major league homer on September 28 off Kansas City’s Luke Hochevar.

While in Culiacan, he’ll have to battle Mike McCoy for playing time at shortstop. McCoy was eighth among LMP batters with a .333 average and a Mex Pac-leading 21 stolen bases after 40 games. Pena was hitting .250 in 16 at-bats after his first four games. For now, McCoy has slid over to play third to make room for Pena at short.


A new baseball academy is being constructed in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca. Organizers behind the Alfredo Harp Helu Academy in San Bartolo Coyotepec had a groundbreaking ceremony last month.

The academy will take up about five acres of land and include two full-sized baseball fields, an infield area, three batting cages and six roofed bullpens (with a central tower installed at the top of one of the two full fields). The complex will also include a kitchen and dining room, a multipurpose room, a medical center for therapy and rehabilitation, a dressing room with showers, a gymnasium, laundry facilities, a library with computers and a TV/reading area, all within an 18,000-square foot building.

Alfredo Harp Helu is the 65-year-old former owner of Banamex, the largest bank in Latin America. The Mexico City-born Harp is worth approximately US$1.8 billion, and owns all or part of the Mexico City Diablos Rojos and Oaxaca Guerreros. At the groundbreaking ceremony, Harp told those gathered, “Today, a dream comes true for us, especially for many young talents who want to dedicate their lives to the profession of a ballplayer.”

The academy is expected to open in late 2010.


Although the Saltillo Saraperos are still glowing in the aftermath of their first outright Mexican League championship, that doesn’t mean they’ve stopped looking to improve. The Saraperos recently hosted 70 young players in a tryout camp at Estadio Francisco I. Madero under the watchful eye of Saltillo scouting director Jose Luis Garcia.

The players, ages 15 through 19, were all timed in 60-yard dashes before being broken up into groups according to position for fielding drills. Pitchers were clocked for speed as well as evaluated for variety of pitches thrown. Players were invited back for a second day to give them time to show their batting skills. Saraperos general manager Eduardo Valenzuela was also on hand to watch the first day of tryouts.

Garcia said after the trials, "I want to reiterate to the young people of Saltillo that these tryout programs will continue for the Saraperos club, since it is always important to be on the lookout for prospects born in this state in our search for professionalism. It is a career that demands a large dedication and discipline to play a high-performance sport."

The Saraperos finished the 2009 season with the fifth-best record in the Liga at 59-48 before embarking on a playoff run that resulted in series wins over Reynosa, Laguna and Quintana Roo for the pennant. Saltillo won 12 of 16 postseason games, including a nine-game winning streak between August 5 and 25.

MEXICAN PACIFIC LEAGUE Results (11-27-09 through 12-03-09)

FRIDAY, November 27
Hermosillo 4, Culiacan 3 (12)
HMO-Jose Luis Sandoval GWHR, Luis Alfonso Garcia HR, Chris Roberson HR; CUL-Luis Cruz 4-6, Mike Cervenak 2-4/R/RBI
Guasave 11, Obregon 2
GSV-Marshall McDougall 4-4/2B/R/2RBI, Mario Valenzuela 3RHR, Jim McGrane 6.2IP/2R, OBR-James Tomlin 2-5/R
Los Mochis 5, Navojoa 3
MOC-Ivan Terrazas 2-5/2RBI, Ramon Orantes 2-4/HR/2R, Sandy Madera HR; NAV-Christian Zazueta 3-4/2-2B/RBI
Mazatlan 9, Mexicali 3
MAZ-Roberto Saucedo 3-5/HR/2RBI, Jon Weber 2-5/2RHR, Pablo Ortega 8IP/1ER; MXI-Emmanuel Valdez 2-4/HR/2RBI

SATURDAY, November 28
Culiacan 6, Hermosillo 5
CUL-Refugio Cervantes 2-4/HR/3RBI, Mike Cervenak 2-4/HR/2R; HMO-Vinny Castilla 2RHR, Chris Roberson 3-4/R
Guasave 11, Obregon 5
GSV-Mario Valdez 2-4/3RHR/3R/4RBI, Yurendell de Caster 3-4/2-2B/2RBI; OBR-Said Gutierrez 2-2/HR/2RBI
Navojoa 5, Los Mochis 4
NAV-Alejandro Soto 4.2IP/0R/3H, Adan Munoz 2B/3RBI; MOC-Saul Soto 2-4/2B/2RBI, Carlos Orrantia 3-5
Mexicali 9, Mazatlan 1
MXI-Kameron Loe 5IP/0R/3H, Matt Camp 4-5/2B/2R, Emmanuel Valdez 2-5/2B/GSHR; MAZ-Hector Garanzuay 2-4/2B/R

SUNDAY, November 29
Culiacan 5, Hermosillo 1
CUL-Luis Cruz 2-3/R/2RBI, Alex Sanchez 3-5, Damian Moss 5IP/1R/3H/5K; HMO-Erick Rodriguez 2-3/RBI
Guasave 3, Obregon 2
GSV-Robert Coello 6IP/2R/5H, Yurendell de Caster 2-4, Jose Rodriguez 1-3/R/RBI; OBR-John Mayberry Jr. 1-3/2B/R
Navojoa 6, Los Mochis 5
NAV-Abel Martinez 3-4/2B/2R, Scott Thorman 2-5/HR/2RBI; MOC-Ramon Orantes 1-3/2RHR/2R, Alberto Castillo 4IP/0R/2H/6K
Mazatlan 9, Mexicali 7
MAZ-Heber Gomez 3B/HR/2RBI, John Lindsey 2RHR, Esteban Loaiza 5.1IP/0ER; MXI-Santiago Gonzalez 2-4/R/2RBI

TUESDAY, December 1
Navojoa 5, Guasave 2
NAV-Tim Gustafson 6IP/0R/8H, Scott Thorman 2-3/2B/R/RBI; GSV-Yurendell de Caster 3-4, Eduardo Arredondo 2-4/RBI
Los Mochis 6, Obregon 4
MOC-Saul Soto 2-4/HR/2R/2RBI, Luis Suarez 3-4/2R; OBR-Carlos Valencia 3-5/2B/R/RBI, Erubiel Durazo 2-3/R
Mexicali 4, Culiacan 1
MXI-Calvin Medlock 6.1IP/1R/2H/5K, Adam Rosales 2-2/3B/R/RBI, Adan Munoz HR; CUL-Mike McCoy 2B/RBI/SB
Hermosillo 6, Mazatlan 1
HMO-Edgar Gonzalez 7IP/1R, Vinny Castilla 2-5/2B/R/2RBI, Humberto Cota 2-4/2-2B/R/RBI; MAZ-Ruben Rivera 2-3/R

WEDNESDAY, December 2
Navojoa 7, Guasave 6
NAV-Scott Thorman 2-3/3RHR/2R/4RBI, Reid Gorecki 2-4/2B/R; GSV-Eduardo Aredondo 2-5/3RHR, Yurendell de Caster 2-4/R
Obregon 15, Los Mochis 8
OBR-Carlos Valencia 3-5/2B/3RHR/5RBI, Iker franco 3RHR; MOC-Ramon Orantes 2-4/2RHR, Saul Soto 2-3/2B/2R
Mexicali 4, Culiacan 1
MXI-Oscar Rivera 5.1IP/1R, Brad Snyder 2-3/2B/R, Adam Rosales 1-3/3B/2R/RBI; CUL-Ramiro Pena 2-4/3B/R
Mazatlan 4, Hermosillo 3
MAZ-Jon Weber 2-5/2B/GWRBI, John Lindsey 2RHR, Ruben Rivera 3-4/R; HMO-Luis Alfonso Garcia HR, Geronimo Gil 2-3/RBI

THURSDAY, December 3
Navojoa 8, Guasave 5
NAV-Matt Young 2-5/2B/3RBI, Adan Munoz 2-4/2-2B/R/RBI; GSV-Eduardo Arredondo 3-4/R/RBI, Yurendell de Caster 1-5/HR
Los Mochis 4, Obregon 3
MOC-Victor Santos 7IP/1R/2H/6K, Luis Suarez 3-5/HR/3RBI; OBR-Luis Garcia 1-3/HR, Chris Snelling 1-3/2B
Culiacan 9, Mexicali 6
CUL-Ramiro Pena 2-4/2B/R/3RBI, Mike McCoy 3-4/R/RBI, Luis Cruz 3-5/2-2B/R; MXI-Matt Camp 2-5/2B/R/RBI
Hermosillo 4, Mazatlan 1
HMO-Juan Deladillo 5IP/0ER, Vinny Castilla 2-4/RBI, Nelson Teilon 2RHR; MAZ-Robero Saucedo 3-4/2B, Pablo Ortega 7IP/2ER

DEC. 4-6 Mazatlan @ Culiacan, Los Mochis @ Guasave, Navojoa @ Hermosillo, Mexicali @ Obregon
DEC. 8-10 Guasave @ Mazatlan, Obregon @ Culiacan, Los Mochis @ Hermosillo, Navojoa @ Mexicali
DEC. 11-13 Mazatlan @ Navojoa, Culiacan @ Los Mochis, Hermosillo @ Obregon, Mexicali @ Guasave

MEXICAN BASEBALL ROAD TRIP (Stop #10): Torreon, Coahuila

The tenth leg of our 24-city Mexican Baseball Road Trip takes us from Chihuahua 264 miles south in a straight shot on Highways 45 and 49D to the cities of Torreon, Coahuila and Gomez Palacio, Durango, otherwise known as Laguna. Laguna consists of about 1.3 million residents, including a workforce of nearly 400,000 people mostly in industry and commerce. The two cities and states are separated geographically by the Rio Nazas. The climate is dry and warm, since Laguna is located on a basin within the Chihuahuan Desert. Ironically, the two lagoons the region was named after have both dried up.

Torreon, a city of 1.1 million people where the Vaqueros actually play their home games, was named after a large tower built by Don Leonardo Zuluoaga in 1850 to watch over the Rio Nazas. Across the river, the city of Gomez Palacio has about 300,000 residents. The Laguna region was devastated by the heavy fighting in the Revolution of the early 20th Century, but has since become a notable nationwide center for cotton, livestock, mining and the wine industry.
Culturally, there are 11 universities and technical colleges in the Laguna area, and the Absalom Music Center is a well-respected musical academy. Also, the Teatro Isauro Martinez is considered one of the most beautiful theaters in the country. There are a number of local landmarks, including the Cristo de las Noas, the third-tallest statue of Jesus Christ in Latin America (smaller only than similar statues in Brazil and Colombia). Two of the most popular events in Laguna are the September Cotton Fair, which features an assortment of cultural events including music and bullfighting, and the Laguna DrumFest, which brings some of the best drummers from Mexico and abroad together at the Teatro Nazas for two days of percussion in October.

Laguna has a long history of baseball in the Mexican League, with the Union Laguna team winning Liga pennants in 1942 (under Hall of Fame player-manager Martin Dihigo) and in 1950. The 2009 edition of the Vaqueros finished 55-51 in the regular season and shocked the defending champion Mexico City Diablos Rojos in the first round of the playoffs before losing to Saltillo in the Northern Zone final.

For a while, the team played its home games at the former Colt Stadium, which served Houston’s National League team between 1962 and 1964 before the Astrodome was completed. Colt Stadium sat unused in the Astrodome parking lot before the grandstands were broken down and moved in sections to Gomez Palacio in 1970 after the Laguna team bought the remnants of the ballpark for $100,000. Colt Stadium reportedly still stands as part of a public playground. Presently, the Vaqueros play their home games in Torreon’s 12,000-seat Estadio Revolucion.

NEXT ROAD TRIP STOP (#11): Monclova, Coahuila