Monday, March 29, 2010

WERE THEY USING BATTING TEES?

It’s one of the maxims of baseball in spring that hitters will be ahead of pitchers, but nowhere was that more apparent than in the Mexican League last Saturday night.

Laguna posted a 24-10 drubbing of Nuevo Laredo in Torreon as the Vaqueros collected 27 hits to go along with five Tecolotes errors. The game was a scoreless tie until the bottom of the second as Ivan Araujo (pictured) finished with a 5-for-6 night for Laguna, who surprisingly had no homers in the rout.
Things weren’t much better for Yucatan the same night as the Leones were on the short end of a 20-8 pasting in Puebla. The Pericos put this one out of reach early by scoring 10 runs in the first inning, including six off Leones starter Salvador Arellano (who failed to retire any of the six batters he faced). Rene Reyes was 4-for-6 for Puebla, who had no homers among their 22 hits.

FERNANDEZ TAKES MANAGERIAL REINS IN TABASCO

It’s not unusual to see teams change managers during the season, but one week into the schedule? The Tabasco Olmecas have done just that by bringing former Mexico City Diablos Rojos skipper Daniel Fernandez to Villahermosa to replace Gustavo Llenas after just five games in the 2010 season. The Olmecas lost all five contests prior to Fernandez’ March 22 hiring.

The 44-year-old Fernandez was one of Mexico’s top players during his long career with the Diablos, and is considered by many observers to be the greatest leadoff hitter in Liga history. He ended his 25-year career in 2007 with 2,648 hits for an average of .313, is the LMB’s all-time leader in runs scored with 1,836 and stands third with 478 lifetime stolen bases.

Fernandez was quite successful in a two-year stint as manager in Mexico City as well, going 66-39 and winning the Liga pennant in 2008 and turned in an LMB-best 70-35 regular season record before being shocked by the Laguna Vaqueros in the first round of the playoffs last year, which led to his ouster by Diablos ownership. The Olmecas are 3-3 since Fernandez took over the team.

TIGRES 3B MARTINEZ REACHES 1,000-GAME MARK OF LMB CAREER

Quintana Roo Tigres third baseman Abel Martinez played in his 1,000th Mexican League game last Wednesday night when the defending southern champions squared off against the Puebla Pericos in Puebla’s Parque de Hermanos Serdan. The Los Mochis native, who turns 33 next month, began his Liga career with the old Cancun Langosteros in 1996.

After going just 4-for-26 that first season, Martinez went on to play with Cancun through 2003 (minus a season with Kansas City’s Class A Northwest League affiliate in Spokane in 2000) before embarking on an five-year LMB odyssey that took him to Laguna, Aguascalientes, Veracruz and Tijuana before returning to Quintana Roo last season. His best season came in 2005 with Laguna when he batted .334 with 11 homers and 16 stolen bases for the Vaqueros in 95 games. Martinez hit .372 for Aguascalientes one year later, but only had two homers and 7 steals.

Martinez, who plays winter ball with Navojoa in the Mexican Pacific League, hit .296 in nine games for Mexico at last year’s Baseball World Cup in Europe.

MEXICAN PLAYERS BEGIN SEASON OVERSEAS

A trio of Mexican ballplayers began their 2010 regular seasons in Asia. Former Padres second baseman Edgar Gonzalez made his debut with Tokyo’s Yomiuri Giants last week, drawing a walk and scoring a run in the Giants’ 4-1 Central League win over the Yakult Swallows in front of over 44,000 fans at the Tokyo Dome. Yomiuri is the defending league champion.

Two other Mexicans are playing in the Korea Baseball Organization. Karim Garcia, who has become a huge star in South Korea, blasted a homer for the Lotte Giants in a 3-2 opening day loss to the Nexen Heroes, while pitcher Edgar Gonzalez went five strong innings for the LG Twins in their 7-5 win in 11 innings over the Samsung Lions. Gonzalez left the game with a 4-2 lead.