Monday, June 28, 2010

FIVE NEW SALON MEMBERS INDUCTED DURING PREGAME CEREMONY

The five newest members of Mexico’s baseball hall of fame, the Salon de la Fama, were inducted Saturday night in a pregame ceremony at Saltillo’s Parque Francisco I. Madero. Players Derek Bryant, Alonso Tellez and Gerardo “Polvorita” Sanchez were joined by pitcher Armando Reynoso and umpire Efrain Ibarra as Mexican League president Plinio Escalante and Salon director Mario Morales Salazar conducted the ceremony.

Bryant demolished Liga pitchers with a .355 batting average and 141 homers between 1982 and 1988, hitting .389 with 41 homers in just 100 games for Tampico in 1984. He also managed Monterrey to pennants in 1995 and 1996. Tellez, who now coaches in Reynosa, hit over .300 for his career and is in the LMB’s all-time Top Ten list with 2,522 hits and 1,289 RBIs, adding 226 homers. Tellez hit .307 or better every year from 1985 through 1997, mostly for the old Monterrey Industriales. Sanchez, who currently manages Monclova, set a Mexican League record by playing 1,415 consecutive games for Nuevo Laredo. He ended up spending his first 18 seasons with the Tecos, batting .289 with 199 homers, before finishing with the Mexico City Tigres in 2001. Sanchez is in the LMB’s All-Time Top 20 in ten different offensive categories.

Reynoso went 44-23 with a 3.93 ERA for Saltillo from 1988 through 1990 (going 20-3 his final year) before embarking on a 12-year major league career for four teams. He won 12 games for Colorado in 1993 and earned 21 wins between 1999 and 2000 for Arizona. Reynoso finished his MLB career in 2002 with a 68-63 record over 198 games. Ibarra, who died in February at age 70, began his umpiring career in the Mexican Central League in 1965 before becoming a full-time Mexican League ump two years later. He went on to become one of the most-respected arbiters in Mexico, working All-Star and playoff games in the LMB and Mexican Pacific Leagues as well as the Caribbean Series.

TIGRES GM VALENZUELA NAMED ASSOCIATE SCOUT FOR TAMPA BAY

Quintana Roo Tigres sports manager Mario Valenzuela has joined the Tampa Bay Rays staff as an associate scout. It’s Valenzuela’s second talent-searching stint for Tampa Bay, having done some scouting between 1999 and 2004. He also was a team scout for the Atlanta Braves from 1993 to 1996.

An offer was reportedly made to Valenzuela to return to work for the Rays last February, when Tampa Bay scouting chief Carlos Alfonso was in Cancun to take a look at fellow Cuban Leslie Anderson, one of 20 players who defected from the island nation on a boat to Mexico just prior to last year’s Baseball World Cup. The 28-year-old Anderson signed with the Rays for a reported $3.75 million.

Valenzuela, who will continue his duties with the Tigres, will be an associate under the Rays’ top scout in Mexico, Oaxaca Guerreros manager Eddy Diaz.

FOUR-WAY BATTLE FOR LIGA NORTE SECOND-HALF LEAD

Agua Prieta, Tijuana and defending champion Guaymas are all tied for the second-half lead in the Class A Mexican Northern League with identical 14-4 records, one game ahead of 13-5 Ensenada. Tijuana nudged out Caborca for the first-half crown with a 29-9-2 record.

Ex-Cubs farmhand Kevin Soto of Empalme leads the LNM with a .413 batting average in 53 games, former Mexican Leaguer Jayson Bass of Caborca has a commanding lead in homers with 15 and onetime Japanese Pacific League player Yuji Yoshioka of Ensenada is tops with 57 RBIs.

Pitchers Omar Urquidez of Empalme and Agua Prieta’s Jose Quintero each sport 8-1 records, Ensenada’s Alexis Candelario (who is a perfect 6-0) has a microscopic 1.28 ERA while Tijuana’s Carlos Teller leads the Norte with 74 strikeouts in 58 innings. Urquidez has pitched sparingly in the Mexican League in recent seasons (including four games for Nuevo Laredo this year), while the other three hurlers have all pitched affiliate ball in the low minors.

Guaymas (pictured) defeated Agua Prieta in the LNM finals last August for the 2009 pennant.