Monday, May 3, 2010

MADERA, GARCIA CARRYING OVER HOT WINTER SEASONS

Sandy Madera and Luis Alfonso Garcia (pictured)were arguably the two hottest hitters during last winter’s Mexican Pacific League season. Madera batted .413 to lead the LMP, 34 points ahead of Mexicali’s Brad Snyder, while Garcia led the Mex Pac with 23 homers for Hermosillo en route to being voted the MVP by the LMP’s team presidents. Both Madera and Garcia are thus far showing in Mexican League play that their respective winter performances were not flukes.

Madera has gone 20-for-40 over his past ten games for Saltillo to overtake Puebla’s Willis Otanez for the Liga lead with a .431 batting average. The right-handed first baseman is especially wearing out right-handed pitchers, hitting .466 against starboard siders. Although Garcia went homerless for Monterrey last week, the 6’4” Guadalajara native tops the Mexican League with 13 roundtrippers and 46 RBIs over 39 games while carrying a .359 batting average.

Garcia is one of the main reasons Monterrey has taken over first place in the LMB North with a 26-15 record, one game ahead of 25-16 Mexico City. Chihuahua has cooled off a bit, splitting their last ten games and beginning this week in third place with a 23-18 mark. In the LMB South, Puebla continues to cruise toward a first-half title with a 29-10 record. Otanez and his Pericos teammates have won 15 of 20 games on the road, by far the best in the Liga. Yucatan is six games back in second at 24-17, while Oaxaca survived a tumultuous week to hang on to third place with a 22-18 ledger.

GUERREROS TO REMAIN IN OAXACA

At this time last week, the Oaxaca Guerreros were on the clock to resolve a ballpark dispute at the risk of either being forced to move to another city or lose their Mexican League franchise altogether. A dispute between the Universidad Autonoma Benito Juarez de Oaxaca and the Union of Academics of the University of Oaxaca led to union workers blocking access for fans and teams to the university-owned Estadio Eduardo Vasconcelos for a scheduled April 22 game between the Guerreros and Minatitlan, which was postponed. Oaxaca’s home series with Veracruz early last week was shifted north to the port city while negotiations continued.

A strike was averted when the two sides reached agreement on wage increases early last week and the university’s 25,000 students have returned to class. Now that their season has likely been saved, the Guerreros hosted Puebla in an incident-free series over the weekend while a series scheduled to be played in Veracruz this week has been shifted to Oaxaca.

The Mexican League office has said next to nothing about the resolution of Oaxaca’s ballpark crisis, referring only to “causes of greater force” in a press release announcing the shift of the Guerreros-Aguilas series this week from Veracruz to Oaxaca.

PETROS BRING IN HALL OF FAMER SOMMERS AS MANAGER

The Minatitlan Petroleros fired Miguel Cazarin as manager last weekend, replacing him with Salon de la Fama infielder Jesus “El Guapo” Sommers. The Oilers were 14-24 and in sixth place in the LMB South when Cazarin was let go after a 7-3 home loss to Veracruz on Friday, but won their first two games under Sommers on Saturday and Sunday heading into Monday’s travel day.

The 60-year-old native of Guaymas, Sonora was enshrined in Monterrey in 2002 after a 27-year playing career that ended with an LMB-record 3,004 hits and 488 doubles. Sommers hit .291 over 2,908 games for 13 teams (!) between 1970 and 1996, topping the .300 mark nine times. He also spent 25 winters playing for eight teams in the Mexican Pacific League, where Sommers stands seventh on the all-time list with 1,073 hits and fourth with 175 doubles. He is the son of former Negro League player Lonnie Sommers.

PADS STAR MAY SIT OUT PHOENIX ALL-STAR GAME IN 2011, CALLS FOR SPRING BOYCOTT

San Diego Padres first baseman Adrian Gonzalez says that if he’s chosen for next year’s All-Star Game in Phoenix, he may refuse to play in response to last week’s signing of a controversial immigration law in Arizona. Gonzalez, a Mexican-American who grew up in both Tijuana and the San Diego area, has played in the past two All-Star Games. He told AOL Fanhouse, “If they leave it up to the players and the law is still there, I’ll probably not play in the All-Star Game because it’s a discriminating law.”

Gonzales added that he’d like to see major league teams boycott Arizona for spring training. “I know it can’t be done,” he said, “ but they should take spring training out of there if it’s possible.”