Monday, April 26, 2010


For a team that was facing some real problems in the offseason, the Chihuahua Dorados have made a strong showing in the early part of the current Mexican League season. Following a 2009 season in which they finished 40-67 after losing their final eleven games, the Dorados were shopped around by owner Jose Maiz (who also owns the Saltillo Saraperos). One rumor had the team being sold and shipped to the southern Mexican state of Chiapas, but a group of local investors banded together and bought the Dorados, keeping them in Chihuahua.

The Dorados then took a very proactive approach in revamping their roster after hiring Francisco “Chico” Rodriguez as manager. So far the results are promising, with Chihuahua winning 12 of their past 14 games and moving into a tie with Monterrey for first place in the LMB’s Zona Madero before dropping an 8-6 decision to Mexico City on Sunday. The Dorados are 21-14.

Although no Chihuahua player is having a lights-out season, the pitching staff is the primary reason for the Dorados’ solid start. The team’s ERA is 4.06, fourth in the league, with former major leaguer Mac Suzuki (pictured) tops among starters with a 2.51 ERA (good for sixth in the Liga). Suzuki is 3-1 after seven starts. Chihuahua’s batting has been mediocre at best, although first baseman Francisco Mendez is hitting .325 with five homers over 35 games. Former major leaguers Benji Gil and Jacob Cruz are both batting less than .230, though.


The Oaxaca Guerreros are facing a labor issue at their ballpark that may result in the team’s expulsion from the Mexican League…during the season. The Guerreros play at 7,200-seat Estadio Eduardo Vasconcelos, where they have a 10-5 record this season. The stadium is owned by the Universidad Autónoma Benito Juárez de Oaxaca, where employees are in a dispute with the university over wages. The dispute led to the postponement of a May 22 home game against Minatitlan and the Guerreros’ home series with Veracruz this week has been shifted to the Aguilas’ Parque Beto Avila while the dispute is negotiated.

On Saturday, the Mexican League gave a 14-hour deadline to Oaxaca management to resolve the issue or move the team to another qualified city, threatening to revoke the franchise if neither is accomplished.


More ballpark issues in Mexico City, although they’re nothing like what’s going on in Oaxaca. The Diablos Rojos will be moving three home series next month to Aguascalientes, a former Mexican League city that last had a team in 2007 before the Rieleros were moved to Nuevo Laredo. An earlier incarnation of the Rieleros won the LMB pennant in 1978.

The shift of games out of Mexico City is necessitated by the use of the publicly-owned Foro Sol, where the Diablos call home, for other events during May. The Diablos will host Chihuahua from May 14-16, Reynosa from May 26-27 and Monterrey from May 28-30. The games will be played in 10,000-seat Parque Alberto Romo Chavez, which first opened in 1938.


The Mexico City Diablos Rojos have acquired infielder Henry Mateo (pictured) from Reynosa. Mateo is batting .299 and leads the LMB with 13 stolen bases, but also has 31 strikeouts in 137 at-bats. The 33-year-old Mateo is expected to play second base in place of the injured Carlos Valencia…Reynosa left-handed pitcher Brian Adams has been knocked out of action with a foot injury, likely for the rest of the season. Adams was in the Broncos’ dugout during a series against Nuevo Laredo when he was struck on the right foot by a foul ball. It was determined that Adams’ injury will keep him out of the lineup for three months, which covers the rest of the regular season. At the time of his injury, Adams was 2-0 over after six starts and was leading the Liga with a 1.07 ERA in 42 innings pitched…The Mexican Pacific League will maintain its 68-game schedule for the 2010-11 season. The Mex Pac had been considering changing its format next winter in response to the possibility that the Caribbean Series in Puerto Rico would be played in late January instead of the traditional first week of February. However, the CS will be played in February after all…The Laredo Broncos of the independent United League announced the hiring of Mexican League legend Alejandro Ortiz as batting coach for 2010. Ortiz will work under former LMB catcher and manager Dan Firova, who is the Broncos’ skipper.

Monday, April 19, 2010


For some teams, it’s never too early to go into panic mode. That seems to be the case with the Monclova Acereros and especially the Tabasco Olmecas, who have changed managers less than 30 games into the 2010 season. For the Olmecas, it was the second such move in less than a month.

The Acereros replaced first-year skipper Mario Mendoza with Gerardo “Polvorita” Sanchez (pictured) yesterday after Monclova got off to a 10-19 start in the Mexican League’s first half schedule. Sanchez was an outfielder for Nuevo Laredo between 1983 and 2001, and set the Liga record for consecutive games played with 1,415 straight appearances in the Tecos’ lineup. His streak ended in bizarre fashion when Sanchez and four teammates chose to fly from Villahermosa to Mexico City for a series while the rest of the Tecos took a ten-hour bus trip. However, because of smoke from a forest fire in Tabasco, Sanchez’ flight was cancelled and he missed the series opener in Mexico City. Sanchez, who was Quintana Roo’s third base coach prior to his hiring in Monclova, will enter the Salon de la Fama this summer.

The Steelers are currently in last place in the eight-team Zona Madero, eight games behind division leaders Mexico City and Monterrey (who are both 18-11) and one game out of sixth place, where Laguna and Nuevo Laredo are tied with 11-18 records.

Meanwhile, Tabasco cut manager Daniel Fernandez loose on Friday after he was only able to win five of 16 games after replacing Gustavo Llenas, who went 0-5 to start the season. The Olmecas have tabbed longtime Mexican manager Enrique “Che” Reyes to replace Fernandez.

Reyes was a light-hitting catcher for ten seasons between 1983 and 1992, and was a teammate of Sanchez in Nuevo Laredo for seven campaigns. Reyes since has become one of Mexico’s most-respected managers, winning LMB Manager of the Year honors with Puebla in 2003 and leading the Mexican National Team in both the 2007 Baseball World Cup and 2009 World Baseball Classic.


A trio of players with the Mexico City Diablos Rojos have been placed on a new Mexican postage stamp issue entitled “El Beisbol en Mexico.” Infielder Jose Luis Sandoval, catcher Miguel Ojeda and designated hitter Roberto Saucedo are each featured on seven-peso stamps commemorating the Diablos’ 70th anniversary season.

A ceremony announcing the release of the set was held last Friday night at Foro Sol in Mexico City before the Diablos’ game with Monterrey. The three stamps will be available as insets on 100,000 sheets selling for 21 pesos each, and are made possible with support from the Diablos and Oaxaca’s Philatelic Museum.

Similar stamp sets will be issued in the future.


Florida Marlins third baseman Jorge Cantu is off to a good start in 2010, setting a Major League Baseball batting record along the way.

Cantu, who had a .288 batting average with three homers and a National League-leading 16 RBIs through Sunday, began the season by collecting a hit and an RBI in the first ten games of the season, shattering Hall of Famer George Kelly’s record of collecting a hit and RBI in the first eight games of the 1921 season. Cantu’s streak ended last Friday when he was held without an RBI in a game against Philadelphia.

Cantu’s hits/RBIs streak actually ended at 14 games because he’d turned the trick in the final four games of 2009. His streak of 14 games with an RBI is tied with Tris Speaker (1928) for third on the all-time list, behind Ray Grimes at 17 (1922) and Mike Piazza’s 15 (2000).

Cantu went to high school in Reynosa and spent time in the batting cage with the Broncos in February before joining the Marlins for spring training.

Monday, April 12, 2010


Both the Puebla Pericos and first baseman Willis Otanez (pictured) saw a pair of impressive streaks come to an end Sunday afternoon in an 11-1 drubbing at home against the Campeche Piratas. With the loss, the Pericos’ 13-game winning streak was snapped. Puebla had defeated the Pirates, 6-0, Saturday night as starter Omar Espinoza tossed six shutout innings to run his record to 4-0 while Otanez stretched his hitting streak to 37 games (dating back to last season) by slapping a grounder past Campeche third baseman Cesar Osuna in the fourth inning.

However, both streaks were stopped Sunday with the Piratas’ resounding road win. Raul Gonzalez socked two homers and Jose Macias blasted a grand slam for Campeche as pitcher Ozzie Mendez turned in six shutout innings. Puebla scored their lone run in the eighth inning, but Macias’ four-run bomb in the top of the ninth served as an exclamation point for the Piratas. Even with the loss, Puebla’s 19-4 season record is best in the LMB. They’re three games ahead of the 16-7 Oaxaca Guerreros in the Zona Hidalgo standings.

Otanez was held hitless in the game, but his 37-game hitting streak is still the longest in modern Mexican League history, topping the old record of 36 set by Luis de los Santos (year unknown). However, the Liga has not yet officially recognized Otanez’ streak because it began with 13 games remaining in the 2009 schedule.


If Karim Garcia starts his Korean Baseball Organization season slowly because he’s “tired,” wait’ll he catches his breath. The Obregon native has reportedly endured some criticism among Korean fans and media for playing winter ball in the Mexican Pacific League because he’s worn out by the time he joins the Lotte Giants for the start of the KBO season, but judging by a 7-for-7 night at the plate in a 15-12, 12-inning loss to the Hanwha Eagles on April 9, he’ll be in good shape once he gets some rest.

Garcia had a homer, scored three runs, drove in six and mustered up enough energy to steal a pair of bases in the game, in which he broke the KBO record for hits in a game. He also threw out a baserunner at home plate from his outfield position for good measure.

The former major leaguer is in his third season of Korean ball, but got off to a slow start last year, drawing complaints that he was tired from playing in the MexPac. Garcia told the Puro Beisbol website, “In my career, I’ve always played winter ball after completing the summer league. It’s like giving back to the Mexican fans who can see me play,” adding that he was tired after playing for Mexico in the 2009 World Baseball Classic.

Garcia hit .361 in 15 regular games for Hermosillo last winter before batting .239 in 14 LMP playoff games and .231 for the Naranjeros in three Caribbean Series contests.


Import Bobby Cramer went all nine innings for Quintana Roo (striking out 11 batters) in a 1-0 loss to Minatitlan on April 4 to become the first Tigres pitcher to toss a complete game in 16 years…Former major league infielder Jolbert Cabrera has signed a contract with Oaxaca. Cabrera played eight years in MLB, hitting .257. The 37-year-old brother of Cincinnati shortstop Orlando Cabrera can play all four infield positions plus left and right field…Outfielder Luis Carlos Garcia was traded by Campeche to Chihuahua for pitcher Juan Cerros. The 34-year-old Garcia is a career .320 batter in Mexican League play (including a .368 average for the Tigres in his rookie year of 1999), but was only hitting .176 in 14 games for the Piratas…Ex-Twins outfielder Lew Ford (pictured) is getting his groove back with Oaxaca. After 18 games, Ford in third in the Liga with a .426 batting average while leading the LMB in on-base percentage (.530) and slugging percentage (.794). In five years with Minnesota, Ford hit .272 with 32 homers and 172 RBIs in 494 games.

Monday, April 5, 2010


The Puebla Pericos ended the weekend with a 4-2 win in Campeche on Sunday to bring their current winning streak to eight games, best thus far among Mexican League teams. While the Parrots are third in the Liga in batting with a .324 team average (Willis Otanez is hitting .478 with a league-leading 24 RBIs), it’s pitching that has carried Puebla through the streak.

In six road games last week in Tabasco and Campeche, Pericos pitchers combined to allow just eight runs (including one shutout), with no opponent notching more than two runs in a single game. Omar Espinoza (4-0/2.82) leads the LMB in wins, while fellow starter Guadalupe Perez is 3-0 with a 2.95 ERA. Closer Luis Ramirez (1-1/2.25) tops the circuit with eight saves as Puebla has turned in a team ERA of 3.55.

The 14-3 Pericos have the best record in the Mexican League along with a three-game lead over 11-6 Oaxaca in the LMB South, which is being called the Zona Hidalgo this year by the Liga in recognition of the 200th anniversary of Mexico’s initial fight for independence. It was Father Miguel Hidalgo’s famous cry for freedom in 1810 (called “El Grito” in Mexico) that helped spur the native revolt against their Spanish colonial rulers.


Meanwhile, in the Mexican League’s northern Zona Madero (named after Francisco I. Madero, an early 20th century revolutionary leader and president after whom Saltillo’s ballpark is named), the Mexico City Diablos Rojos and Reynosa Broncos share the lead with identical 12-5 records. The Diablos carried a four-game win streak into Monday’s off-day, while the Broncos have a five-game skein going.

The Diablos have ten players batting .310 or better, led by first baseman Mario Valdez, whose .458 mark over just seven games includes a productive three homers. Newcomer Japhet Amador, last year’s LMB co-Rookie of the Year, is hitting .400 with 16 RBIs in 11 contests. The Red Devils pounded Laguna, 25-9, last Saturday as Valdez went 5-for-5 with six runs and six RBIs.

Reynosa completed a three-game sweep of Monclova with an 8-7 win Sunday as Yurendell de Caster’s seventh-inning RBI double ended up being the game-winner for the Broncos. Reynosa is batting .318 as a team (first baseman Jesse Gutierrez leads the club with a .394 average), while their collective 3.47 ERA is second in the Liga. Pitcher Brian Adams has been merely phenomenal, going 29 innings in four starts without giving up an earned run for a 2-0 record.


As Major League Baseball begins its regular season this week, 15 players of Mexican descent will be on Opening Day rosters. Ten of them are pitchers.

The list of 15 players includes five who were born in the United States to Mexican parents, including infielders Adrian Gonzalez of San Diego (pictured) and Florida's Jorge Cantu, along with pitchers Sergio Mitre (NY Yankees), Octavio Ojeda (Arizona) and Sergio Romo (San Francisco).
Eight MLB pitchers were born in Mexico: Joakim Soria (Kansas City), Alfredo Aceves (NY Yankees), Yovani Gallardo (Milwaukee), Jorge de la Rosa (Colorado), Oliver Perez (NY Mets), Rodrigo Lopez (Arizona), Jaime Garcia and Dennys Reyes (both St. Louis). Lopez has won a berth in the Diamondbacks starting rotation after attending training camp as a non-roster invitee.

Just two position players hail from Mexico: Ramiro Pena (NY Yankees) and Juan Castro (Philadelphia). Both are slated to be backup infielders for their respective league champion teams. The Yankees have the most Mexicans in the Majors with three players (Aceves, Mitre and Pena).

Pitcher Elmer Dessens from Sonora narrowly missed making the Mets’ roster, and was assigned to Class AAA Buffalo of the International League over the weekend.