Monday, May 24, 2010

ALL-STAR GAME SET FOR TUESDAY IN CHIHUAHUA

The 78th Mexican League All-Star Game will be played tomorrow night at Chihuahua’s Estadio Monumental. The 14,500-seat facility was completed in 2004 at an estimated cost of $65 million and has served as home of the LMB’s Chihuahua Dorados since 2007.

Several former major leaguers will take part in the game, which pits the northern Zona Madero against the southern Zona Hidalgo in the only game between the two divisions until the League Championship Series in August. For the host Zona Madero, defending champion Saltillo will send six players, including second baseman Jose Rodriguez, outfielder Jesus Cota and designated hitter Refugio Cervantes as well as Saraperos manager Orlando Sanchez (who will direct the team from the dugout). Among the ex-big leaguers will be catcher Geronimo Gil, pitcher David Cortes, second baseman Oscar Robles (all from Mexico City), pitcher Nerio Rodriguez of Monclova, Chihuahua outfielder Jacob Cruz and Dorados pitcher Mac Suzuki. One curious omission from the Nortenos team is Reynosa first baseman Sandy Madera, the 2009-10 Mexican Pacific League batting champion who is currently tied for third with Oaxaca's Jaime Brena in the Liga tables with a .386 average.

The Zona Hidalgo squad will be managed by Mexican baseball legend Matias Carrillo, skipper of the Quintana Roo Tigres. Carrillo will be joined by four of his Tigres players: catcher Iker Franco, second baseman Carlos Gastelum, outfielder Sergio Contreras and pitcher Scott Chiasson (last year’s Reliever of the Year in the Liga). MLB alumni on the Zona Hidalgo roster include Chiasson, Puebla first baseman Willis Otanez, Campeche outfielder Ruben Rivera and Veracruz outfielder Victor Diaz. Among the missing is another ex-MLBer, Oaxaca shortstop Jolbert Cabrera, whose .385 batting average for the Guerreros (fifth in the Liga) has come in just 37 games since his arrival three weeks into the season. Each team will suit up 33 players, including 14 pitchers apiece.

Last year at Parque Beto Avila in Cancun, Zona Norte defeated Zona Sur, 13-3, as six different northern players hit home runs to set an All-Star Game record (Carlos Valencia of Mexico City swatted two longballs and was named All-Star MVP).

LMB HOME RUN DERBY TO BE HELD TONIGHT

A Home Run Derby will be held tonight as part of All-Star FanFest activities in Chihuahua. Zona Madero will be represented by Japhet Amador of Mexico City, Refugio Cervantes of Saltillo, Monterrey’s Luis Alfonso Garcia and Francisco Mendez of Chihuahua. Zona Hidalgo will send Puebla’s Otanez, Campeche’s Rivera, Diaz of Veracruz and Tabasco’s Michel Abreu. A native Cuban and a former Eastern League batting champion, Abreu was named the Puerto Rico Baseball League’s MVP last winter.

Otanez, a former Toronto Blue Jays infielder, is the reigning Home Run Derby champion. Last year in Cancun, he held off Reynosa’s Marshall McDougall in the final round, 6 to 5. In three rounds, Otanez finished with 29 roundtrippers, six more than McDougall’s 23.

Other FanFest events Monday will include fireworks, live music and an appearance by the Chicas Tecate (pictured) from Cuauhtemoc Breweries.

VAQUEROS FIRE MANAGER DEREK BRYANT

“But what have you done for us lately?”

Last Thursday, the Laguna Vaqueros fired manager Derek Bryant, who led the team to their first playoff berth in five years and a slot in the Northern Zone finals against eventual champion Saltillo. Things have not gone as smoothly in 2010, as the Cowboys finished sixth in the Zona Madero with a 25-28 record for the first half and were 0-3 in the second half at the time of Bryant’s firing. Third base coach Adulfo Camacho will manage Laguna on an interim basis.

A former Oakland A’s outfielder, Bryant will be inducted into the Salon de la Fama next month after batting a resounding .355 with 141 homers for the Mexico City Tigres, Tampico and Monterrey from 1982 through 1988, averaging .34 homers, 107 RBIs and hitting .380 between 1984 and 1986.