Sunday, June 20, 2010

DIABLOS RELEASE LIGA RUN-SCORING LEADER MATEO

When All-Star second baseman Carlos Valencia came back from an injury, it was a given that the Mexico City Diablos Rojos would release a player to make room for him while maintaining their current roster status. What may have been unexpected was that the Diablos let go former major league infielder Henry Mateo (pictured with Durham in 2009).

Valencia is one of the established stars of Mexican baseball, a perennial All-Star second baseman with a career .289 average and 135 careers homers in his tenth Mexican League season. He has also played for the Mexican National Team in the Olympics and Baseball World Cup. Valencia missed part of this season after undergoing surgery on his right tibia.

However, it’s not as if Mateo wasn’t getting the job done in Valencia’s absence. The ex-Montreal second baseman was hitting .338 at the time of his release, leading the Liga with 76 runs scored over 67 games for both Laguna and Mexico City. Mateo’s 21 stolen bases are second only to Alexis Gomez’ 29 swipes for Laguna.

One other reason for his release was the signing of Venezuelan reliever Francisco Butto, a former Phillies and Yankees farmhand who saved four games for the Caracas Leones in the 2009 Caribbean Series. Since LMB teams are limited in the number of import players they can carry, the Dominican Mateo became the odd man out with the Diablos.

YUCATAN MANAGER RIVERA SUSPENDED, FINED FOR UMP RUN-IN

For the second time this month, a member of the Yucatan Leones will have to sit out games after a disturbance with a Mexican League umpire. However, instead of a Yucatan player, this time the culprit is Leones manager Lino Rivera.

Rivera, a former pitcher in the Rangers and Tigers systems, was tossed from a game last Thursday in Puebla. Apparently, his actions were such that Liga President Plinio Escalante slapped Rivera with a seven-game suspension and a fine of 25,000 pesos (or about $2,000US).


Yucatan team CEO Wilbert Valle Acevedo sent a letter of protest to the LMB office in Mexico City, asking why Rivera’s suspension was for seven games. Escalante is said to have been at the game in Puebla when the Leones manager was ejected.


Valle said the Leones had no problems with umpires in the first half of the season, but Yucatan has lost former outfielder Willie Romero and now Rivera to suspensions following altercations with the men in blue. Romero was traded to Saltillo shortly after his two-game banishment. Rivera is in his second season managing in Yucatan, and has won 109 of 187 games in that span.

SARAPEROS LOADING UP FOR STRETCH RUN

With less than a month to go until the playoffs begin, the defending LMB champion Saltillo Saraperos have added a pair of players they hope will increase their chances for a second consecutive pennant. One of the new additions is a former big league starting pitcher, the other a veteran infielder.

Jose Mercedes (pictured), a 39-year-old former Brewers and Orioles pitcher, is back in Saltillo after being a major contributor to last season’s title effort by going 5-0 in nine starts with 20 strikeouts in 51.1 innings. The Dominican right-hander went 14-7 for Baltimore in 2000, his best season in the majors during an eight-year career in which he finished 33-39 with a 4.75 ERA. Mercedes replaces closer Miguel Saladin, a fellow Dominican righty who was 0-5 with 18 saves (5th in the LMB) and a 6.19 ERA in 36 games.

The Saraperos also traded the rights to outfielder Jose de Jesus Munoz to Veracruz for veteran infielder Jose Amador. The 30-year-old Amador is in his eleventh Liga season, batting .306 with 59 homers over 775 games. In 2006, the Mexicali product hit .368 with nine homers for Laguna and was picked for the All-Star Game in 2007 en route to a .308 season for the Vaqueros. Amador brings a .306 season average to Saltillo, where he may replace weak-hitting shortstop Carlos Eduardo Gonzalez, who is only batting .247 with no homers and 12 RBIs in 67 games for the champions.


Munoz is on loan to Reynosa, where he’s batting .213, but will report to Veracruz next year.