Friday, December 31, 2010


With an 8-1 win over Los Mochis Thursday night, the Culiacan Tomateros finished the second half of the Mexican Pacific League schedule with a 20-13 record to tie with Mochis and Hermosillo for first place in the standings. That brought the calculators out for the “runs average” tiebreaker, basede on a team’s scoring differential in games they’ve played to determine their standings placement. Culiacan had a 141.79 RA to take first place and 8 points, Hermosillo was awarded second place and 7 points with a 112.43 RA and Mochis earned third place and 6 points by finishing with a 107.78.

In the overall two-half scoring race, Culiacan picked up 14 points with an LMP-best 39-29 record to gain top seed for the playoffs and will play Mazatlan (8.5 points) in the first round. Guasave (12.5) and Mochis (9.5) will square off in an opening set while Hermosillo (12.0) and Obregon (12.0) play in the other best-of-7 series. The Naranjeros will have home field advantage in that one after beating the Yaquis 7 of 12 games between the two teams during the regular season.

Individually, the Mex Pac office awarded Guasave's Eduardo Arredondo the batting title with a .406 average despite his being ten plate appearances shy of the 211 needed to qualify, while Hermosillo’s Luis Alfonso Garcia led with 21 homers and 60 RBIs. Mochis’ Alberto Castillo’s 9 wins led pitchers, Obregon’s Luis Mendoza had an LMP-best 2.11 ERA and Mexicali’s Andy Sisco had 85 strikeouts.

Thursday, December 30, 2010


It wasn't the way the Mazatlan Venados would've preferred to do it, but the Deer backed into the sixth and final Mexican Pacific League playoff slot Wednesday night by virtue of a Mexicali Aguilas loss.

With two games remaining in the regular season, the Venados held a two-game lead over the Aguilas for sixth place in the second half standings. Although Mazatlan fell 4-2 to Hermosillo in their game, Mexicali let the Venados off the hook by dropping a 3-0 contest to Guasave. Mazatlan is now 14-18 while the Eagles are 12-20 with one game remaining, effectively ending the playoff chase.

Hermosillo and Mazatlan were tied at 2-2 in the top of the ninth inning when Buck Coats (pictured) drilled a two-out double to left field for his third hit of the game to give the Naranjeros a two-run lead. Closer Jose Vargas retired the Venados in order in the bottom of the frame for his 13th save of the season.

Meanwhile in Mexicali, the Aguilas were rendered helpless by Guasave starter Mauricio Lara and four relievers, collecting just three hits in a 3-0 blanking. Lara went five scoreless innings and gave up just one hit and a walk to go to 3-0 on the season. Yurendell de Caster’s RBI single in the second gave the Algodoneros all the runs they needed.

The Mex Pac's regular season ends Thursday night.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


The Mazatlan Venados opened a three-game series at home against Hermosillo Tuesday night with a 5-3 win over the Naranjeros to come one step closer to clinching the sixth and final Mexican Pacific League playoff berth.

The Venados ran their second half record to 14-17 to remain two games ahead of the 12-19 Mexicali Aguilas, who took a 6-5 victory over the Guasave Algodoneros Tuesday in a series opener at the border city. Any combination of a Mazatlan win or a Mexicali loss over the final two nights of the regular season would hand the Venados a postseason slot.

Venados pitcher Walter Silva (pictured) did his part, allowing no Hermosillo runs over seven innings of three-hit ball to lift his record to a deceptive 4-7 on the season. Despite losing 7 of his 11 decisions, Silva has a 2.87 ERA. Erubiel Durazo’s three-run homer off a reliever in the eighth accounted for Hermosillo’s scoring.

Meanwhile, Mexicali took a 6-5 win at home against Guasave. The Algodoneros took an early 3-0 lead off Aguilas ace Andy Sisco as Leo Heras rocked a homer in his third consecutive game for the Cottoneers in the first inning and added a two-run single in the third. However, Mexicali scored two runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings with Reggie Abercrombie and Raul Gonzalez both homering for the Eagles.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


In a final push to prepare for their title defense, the defending Mexican Pacific League champion Hermosillo Naranjeros have added pitcher Elmer Dessens and third baseman Vinny Castilla while reactivating shortstop Jose Luis Sandoval and outfielder Chris Roberson from the disabled list.

The 39-year-old Dessens (pictured) pitched six scoreless innings in three games for the Orangemen last winter and is 23-25 with a 3.41 ERA lifetime in the Mex Pac. The Hermosillo native is 52-64 in 14 major league seasons, including a 4-2 record with a 2.30 ERA in 53 appearances for the New York Mets in 2010.

Castilla, 43, retired from MLB in 2006 after 15 years in the majors, where he is the all-time leader among Mexican-born players with 320 homers and 1,105 RBIs along with a .276 batting average over 1,854 games. While working in the Colorado Rockies front office, he has remained active in winterball with the Naranjeros, for whom he batted .292 with 7 homers in 30 regular season games last season.

Roberson had been hitting .242 with 11 stolen bases in 55 games while the ageless Sandoval was at .236 in 46 contests for Hermosillo before going on the DL. First baseman Erubiel Durazo, who’s been batting .330 with 11 homers in 55 games, is listed as day-to-day with a groin injury.

Monday, December 27, 2010


The Los Mochis Caneros parlayed a recent six-game win streak into a tenuous lead in the Mexican Pacific League second half standings as the final week of the regular season gets underway. The Caneros lost, 9-6, to Mazatlan Sunday to drop to a 19-10 record, just ahead of 19-11 Hermosillo and 18-11 Culiacan. Mochis finished next-to-last in the first half to gather just 3.5 points but their strong second half showing has assured them of a playoff berth.

Only hapless Navojoa is mathematically out of the six-team postseason picture while Mazatlan and Mexicali are fighting to keep from playoff elimination. Mazatlan wraps up their series in Mochis Monday before hosting Hermosillo in a three-game series while Mexicali ends a set with the Naranjeros Monday prior to a closing series at home against Guasave.

Mochis’ Sandy Madera has taken the lead in the hitting derby with a .360 average while Luis Alfonso Garcia has 21 homers and 60 RBIs to hold comfortable advantages in both categories. Among pitchers, the Caneros’ Alberto Castillo has 9 wins (two more than his closest competitors), Obregon’s Marco Quevedo has taken the ERA lead with a 2.63 figure in the wake of the departure of Hermosillo’s Travis Blackley, and Mexicali’s Andy Sisco is maintaining his season-long strikeouts lead with 80 whiffs.

Sunday, December 26, 2010


Former Hermosillo Naranjeros manager Homar Rojas is trying to put the kibosh on rumors that he will be managing another Mexican Pacific League club, perhaps this season. “No club has called me,” Rojas tells Puro Beisbol’’s Fernando Ballasteros, “and I am tranquil simply putting together the Reynosa Broncos roster for next season in the Mexican League.”

Rojas led the Naranjeros to the Mex Pac pennant and a Caribbean Series berth last winter, but was fired by Hermosillo after finishing one game out of first place in the LMP’s first half this year with an 18-17 record. Some speculation has had him replacing current Mazatlan helmsman Lorenzo Bundy while other rumors place him in Guasave as a replacement for Algodoneros manager Matias Carrillo, but Rojas himself says that “while I have received calls, it’s from the players themselves who’ve heard the rumors.” He added that in concentrating on his summer gig in Reynosa, he feels almost certain the Broncos will bring in pitcher Brian Adams and infielders Yurendell de Caster, Jesse Gutierrez and Marshall McDougall as imports.

Prior to managing, Rojas was a catcher for 23 years in the minors, hitting 150 homers and topping the .300 mark nine times. The 46-year-old Rojas has managed two LMP championship teams since 2008.

Friday, December 24, 2010


With third baseman Ramiro Pena off for his marriage and honeymoon, the Culiacan Tomateros have brought in Cuban infielder Yunesky Sanchez (pictured) to fill Pena’s roster spot. Pena, a Yankees utility man who was part of New York’s 2009 World Series championship team, was batting .238 with one homer and 13 RBIs in 28 games for the Tomateros before taking a break to marry Anahi Sandoval.

In Sanchez, Culiacan picks up a 26-year-old ballplayer whose versatility allows him to play all four infield positions. A player in the Diamondbacks minor league system, Sanchez defected from Cuba in 2004 and signed with Arizona in 2007. Since then, he has been a postseason All-Star Team pick in the Midwest League in 2007 and Southern League in 2008. Last summer, Sanchez played for Reno in the AAA Pacific Coast League, where he batted .286 with homers and 52 RBIs in 105 games for the Aces. He was playing winterball earlier this year in Colombia for the Medellin Potros before the league suspended operations this month due to ongoing weather problems.

While playing for Matanzas in the Cuban National Series prior to leaving the island nation, Sanchez was a teammate of current Culiacan right fielder Amaury Cazana. (NOTE: Photo replaces an earlier picture misidentified as Sanchez...Thanks to a BBM reader who caught my attention)

Thursday, December 23, 2010


It’s been a long year for second baseman Carlos Valencia, but after two surgeries on his knee and some rehab time in the Mexican Northwest League, the 31-year-old All-Star is back in action with his hometown Obregon Yaquis.

“It was very difficult and very frustrating,” Valencia said about the long road back to the playing field. “As a player you want to be on the field as soon as possible, but I also knew I had to be 100 percent to return and be useful to the team….The important thing is to be healthy and help the team in the playoffs.”

After hitting .311 with 14 homers and a Mexican Pacific League-best 63 RBIs last winter for the Yaquis, Valencia had a tough Mexican League season with the Mexico City Diablos Rojos as knee injuries limited him to 33 games and a .270 average with just five homers. He’d belted 121 homers in his previous seven Liga campaigns, including 32 longballs for Tijuana in 2005. and played for Mexico in the 2009 Baseball World Cup.

Valencia arrived home in Obregon after spending rehab time with the Diablos’ Tuxpan affiliate in the Liga Noroeste, where he hit .195 with no homers and five RBIs in 25 games.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


One of the lures of Mexico for expatriates who settle there can be the slower pace of life. Things happen in their own time. An object lesson in that philosophy is being provided by the Mexican League’s Mexico City Diablos Rojos, who recently issued an announcement concerning their proposed new ballpark that said in essence: “We have nothing to say.”

The December 15 post on the Diablos website reads in part: “With rumors that have been emerging in the wake of statements related to the construction of a new baseball stadium in Mexico City as a possible home of our team, the Board of the Mexico Diablos Rojos makes it known that we have not finalized one agreement related to this issue.

“With the intention of finding the best option that allows the construction of a new baseball park, home of the Diablos and a legacy for Mexico City, we will continue searching and analyzing the alternatives presented to us. At the time we make a decision, we will make it known to the public, while maintaining our headquarters at Foro Sol” (pictured), a 26,000-seat stadium built primarily for concerts in 1993.

Plans for a new baseball stadium in Mexico City were announced by the Diablos in early June.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Former major league star third baseman Vinny Castilla appears to be wielding influence these days as an assistant general manager with the Colorado Rockies. On the heels of re-signing Monterrey native Jorge de la Rosa to a new contract potentially worth up to $43 million over four years, the Rockies are said to be interested in signing pitcher Alfredo Aceves (pictured) and infielder Edgar Gonzalez, both free agent Mexican nationals.

Castilla, an original Rockies player in 1993, was born in Oaxaca in 1967 and enjoyed a solid playing career moved into the Rockies’ front office following his 2006 retirement as an MLB player, although he still plays winterball for Hermosillo and was expected to make his season debut this week.

Aceves fashioned a 15-1 record over three years with the Yankees, but was not tendered a contract offer by New York after undergoing collarbone surgery on December 1. Gonzalez went to Japan and hit .263 with 12 homers for Tokyo’s Yomiuri Giants after spending two years playing alongside his brother Adrian in San Diego. Oakland is also said to be looking at “E-Gon,” but Castilla’s presence in Colorado gives the Rockies the inside track.

Monday, December 20, 2010


The Oaxaca Guerreros have appointed veteran manager Marco Antonio Vazquez as skipper for the Mexican League team in the 2011 season. He will replace BBM’s 2010 Manager of the Year, Eddy Diaz, who resigned his post in Oaxaca to become a full-time scout for the Tampa Bay Rays.

A native of Sonora, Vazquez pitched six years in the Liga for five teams in the early 1980’s, going 17-27 with a 4.27 ERA over 107 games. His first managerial job was with Union Laguna of Torreon and Gomez Palacios, turning in a 201-176 record in three seasons between 1989 and 1991 before being replaced in early 1992 by Dave Stockstill.

Vazquez has also spent two stints as manager of the Mexico City Diablos Rojos, who are owned by Alfredo Harp Helu, who also owns the Oaxaca team that just hired him (multiple team ownership is allowed in the LMB). His first go-round with the Red Devils included a Liga pennant in 1994 and berths in the title series in 1995 and 1996. More recently, he managed two years in Mexico City, going 122-91 over 2006 and 2007 and winning division titles both years before first round playoff exits.
Vazquez has also managed winterball teams in Culiacan.

Sunday, December 19, 2010


A bench-clearing brawl between the Mexicali Aguilas and visiting Obregon Yaquis on December 16 resulted in a Yaquis baserunner being flattened, two ejections (including said flattened baserunner) and a total of six suspensions with fines from Mexican Pacific League president Omar Canizales.

With two out in the top of the sixth inning and Obregon leading, 6-1, Yaquis left fielder Jeff Salazar drew a walk and subsequently stole second. After a pickoff attempt by Mexicali pitcher Alejandro Martinez bounced off Salazar into left field, the former Arizona Diamondbacks player exchanged words and then fists with Aguilas second baseman second Oswaldo Morejon, precipitating the brawl. While squaring off with Morejon, Salazar was flattened by a blindside football-style hit from Martinez and lay motionless near second base while bedlam ensued around him. Amazingly, only Salazar and Morejon were ejected from the game.

Canizales took action one day later, suspending Mexicali’s Morejon and Martinez four games each and Moe Munoz for a single game, while dishing out two-game suspensions to Obregon’s Emil Brown and Agustin Murillo plus a one-night sitdown for Salazar. “I feel sad and distressed by the events that occurred,” Canizales said. “We offer our apologies to fans present at the stadium and those following action on TV.”

A video of the brawl can be seen at

Saturday, December 18, 2010

CHRISTMAS STOCKING-STUFFER: “The People’s Guide to Mexico”

I’m going to take a one-day hiatus from writing about Mexican baseball to plug a book that doesn’t even mention sports. Still, I can’t recommend “The People’s Guide to Mexico” by Carl Franz highly enough.

Carl (along with mate Lorena Havens and late pal Steve Rogers) put out the first “People’s Guide” in 1972 and the 13th edition was released in 2006. Yes, it’s a travel guide for Mexico but more spiritually in tune with John Steinbeck and William Least Heat Moon than Eugene Fodor or Arthur Frommer. This is not a book for people who want to view Mexico from a five-star restaurant in a gringo enclave resort…it’s for those who wish to experience Mexico as it really is at the ground level. The culture truly comes alive in its pages.

The “People’s Guide” is nearly 600 pages long with 22 chapters ranging from accommodations and shopping to negotiating through red tape and retiring in Mexico. It’s very practical for people who are either on a budget or simply want to better understand the USA’s neighbors to the south. You’ll learn that the majority of people in Mexico are warm and embracing of people who make an effort to meet them halfway, and you’ll read personal stories about the adventures of Carl, Lorena and Steve that will have you laughing long after you’ve put the book down. Of all my own books on Mexico, this is the most indispensible one.

You can find older copies on Amazon or eBay for as little as a dollar (or simply check out Carl's website at, but its value transcends its price. Even if you never visit Mexico, you should buy this book…it’s that good.

Friday, December 17, 2010


A combined team of prospects for the Monterrey Sultanes and Chihuahua Dorados have won the 2010 Academy Rookie League pennant with a 44-17 record, beating out Mexico City-Oaxaca by one game. Mexico City-Oaxaca finished their schedule at 43-18 as both teams finished above the .700 mark while the LAR’s other three teams had winning percentages of .400 or less.

Monterrey-Chihuahua topped Mexico City-Oaxaca, 5-3, last Saturday behind Jose Colorado’s three-run homer in the eighth inning to clinch the title at the Monterrey-area academy, where ten Mexican League teams house their young players for training. Five combined teams comprise the on-site league.

Jose Figueroa of Mexico City-Oaxaca led the LAR in four offensive categories: Batting (.363), hits (86), runs scored (60) and triples (8). Monterrey-Chihuahua’s Jaciel Ramos topped the circuit with 5 homers while teammate Jean Rubalcava, who was second with a .359 batting average, led with 48 RBIs.

Among pitchers, Ruben Farias of Monterrey-Chihuahua’s nine wins were best in the LAR, while moundmate Jose Garcia had a league-leading 0.87 ERA. Mexico City-Oaxaca’s Aldo Flores and David Reyes each had 89 strikeouts, while MXC-OAX closer Ivan Cota was tops with 8 saves.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


The Mexican Pacific League’s ERA leader is finished for the winter. Former major leaguer Travis Blackley (pictured), who was 5-1 with a 2.09 ERA for the Hermosillo Naranjeros, is back home in his native Australia and through pitching for the defending champion after signing a 2011 contract with the Kia Tigers of the Korea Baseball Organization. The Tigers have ordered him to stop pitching in Mexico despite a Naranjeros website claim that Blackley “did his utmost to get permission” to return to Hermosillo for the rest of the winter.

To replace Blackley on the roster, the Naranjeros picked up another ex-MLB lefty, Randy Keisler, off the Obregon Yaquis roster. Keisler, who went 4-4 in parts of three seasons with the Reds, Athletics and Cardinals between 2005 and 2007, was signed by Obregon in early December after a 3-3 summer with the Mexican League’s Laguna Vaqueros in 2010, but never pitched an inning for the Yaquis.

Elsewhere in the Mex Pac, Mazatlan’s Leo Rosales is out for the year with a shoulder injury after going 11-for-11 in save opportunities with a 2.95 ERA in 20 appearances. Rosales has been replaced on the roster by import third baseman Brian Barden. The Venados also picked up outfielder Edgar Quintero on loan from Los Mochis. Quintero hit .320 with 13 homers in 96 games for Monterrey in the Mexican League in 2010.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


The Minatitlan Petroleros of the Mexican League have brought in Cuban manager Victor Mesa to lead the Oilers in 2011. Mesa replaces Salon de la Fama member Jesus Sommers at the helm. Sommers became the Petroleros skipper on May 1, replacing Manuel Cazarin.

Mesa takes over a Minatitlan team that has had its problems on the field and at the box office. The Petroleros finished the 2010 season with a 44-60 record, well out of the playoff picture. Despite coming in 16 games under .500, those 44 wins are the most ever for the Oilers since the team came to Minatitlan in 2007. The Petroleros also entertained just 74,529 fans at Parque 18 de Marzo de 1939, outdrawing only Nuevo Laredo among the 16 Liga teams.

In Mesa, the Petroleros have a manager who was a player and manager in Cuba’s highly-successful amateur baseball league. He led the league in stolen bases 14 times during his 15-year playing career, and was a mainstay on the Cuban National Team between 1981 and 1995. After retiring, he led Santa Clara to a record eight consecutive 50+ win seasons before moving to Mexico. Mesa, known as “El Loco” for his temper and flamboyance, managed Veracruz to a 27-35 record in 2010 before being fired.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


In what has already been a long season for the moribund Navojoa Mayos, the Mexican Pacific League team took yet another hit when perhaps their best player left the team for health reasons.

Outfielder Matt Young, who was leading the Mayos in seven offensive categories, went home after hurting himself legging out a hit in a December 5 game against Mazatlan. Navojoa team president Victor Cuevas said in a telephone interview that in a subsequent MRI on Young, “we saw something bad,” adding that Young told him “he’s already had two consecutive years without rest, and he felt tired.”

At the time of his departure, the 28-year-old Young was second to Los Mochis’ Justin Christian in the LMP batting race with a .358 average. A 5’8” Texan, Young played last summer for the Braves’ AAA affiliate in Gwinnett, batting .300 with 88 runs and 39 stolen bases in 134 International League games. Gwinnett PR director Nick Margiasso says Young is mostly worn down with various bumps and bruises, adding that he is essentially "A-OK" and will be ready for spring training in February.

The Mayos finished a distant last in the Mex Pac’s first half and their aggregate 17-36 record is worst in the league. Attendance has been no better. While 1,092,299 fans have attended LMP games so far this season, only 31,643 of them have clicked the turnstiles in Navojoa.

Monday, December 13, 2010


Any question as to whether Karim Garcia would take any time getting into a groove for Hermosillo after spending spring and summer playing in Korea was answered with an emphatic “NO!” Sunday in a 12-8 Naranjeros win at Navojoa’s Estadio Manuel “Ciclon” Echevarria.

Garcia became the 30th player in Mexican Pacific League history to belt three homers in a single game (and the first since Obregon’s Said Gutierrez in 2008) while joining Armando Murillo, Andy Dyes, Eduardo Jimenez and Tony Zuniga as the only players to ever drive in nine runs in a nine-inning contest. Garcia is now batting .485 with six homers and 19 RBIs in ten games.

Hermosillo has now won ten games in a row and have a 13-4 second-half record, three games ahead of 10-7 Los Mochis and four up on Culiacan and Mazatlan, who are tied for third at 9-7. Guasave and Obregon are both 8-9 and share fifth, Navojoa holds seventh at 6-11 and Mexicali is last at 5-12.

Also, the Mex Pac passed the one million mark in attendance for the season last week. Hermosillo leads the turnstile derby with an average of 6,611 fans per game. Seven LMP teams are averaging over 5,000, but Navojoa is struggling badly at the gate with just 1,185 per game.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


Kansas City Royals closer Joakim Soria continued his offseason visit to his homeland with a stop at the Alfredo Harp Helu Baseball Academy in San Bartolo Coyotepec, Oaxaca, where he toured the facilities built by and named after the owner of the Mexico City Diablos Rojos (pictured with Soria at the academy) and spoke to a number of prospects on site.

Soria, who was also given Mexico’s National Sports Award for 2010 last month following another address to prospects at the country’s other top baseball academy near Monterrey, once again told the young ballplayers in Oaxaca about the importance of hard work, quoting a priest who spoke in Mexico City’s Foro Sol dugout while Soria was pitching for the Diablos Rojos: “To be someone who triumphs in life you need three things: Heart, mind and the desire to do what you propose. If you apply these fundamentals in any activity, you will be ‘someone’ in life.”

The 26-year-old right-hander from Monclova surprised his audience when asked who has provided his greatest motivation. Rather than name another athlete, he chose an uncle who “despite suffering a disability at work for Altos Hornos de Mexico (a steel mining company), never gave up. He lost both arms, yet learned to write with his feet and today is a leading systems engineer.”

Saturday, December 11, 2010


Former major league second baseman Edgar Gonzalez was the honored guest on December 4 as the Liga Olmeca youth baseball organization celebrated the opening of the 2010-11 season in Mexico City. Brother Adrian Gonzalez, who was scheduled to join him, had to miss the event to report to Boston waiting for his trade from San Diego to the Red Sox to be finalized.

This winter marks the 48th campaign for the Liga Olmeca, which was begun in 1963 and has evolved into one of Mexico’s strongest organizations for young baseball players. Gonzales is pictured tossing out the ceremonial first pitch with Yankees scout and longtime family friend Carlos Fragoso to his right. Fragoso is godfather to both brothers.

The 32-year-old Gonzalez, son of former Mexican National Team player David and brother of Boston Red Sox first baseman Adrian, was born in San Diego but spent several years growing up across the border in Tijuana. He played alongside Adrian in the Padres infield in both 2008 and 2009, batting .255 with 11 homers and 55 RBIs before signing on with Tokyo’s Yomiuri Giants of Japan’s Central League, where he hit .263 with 12 homers in 2010. He is reportedly being considered for offers from Oakland and Colorado, and will bypass playing this winter as usual for Mazatlan in the Mexican Pacific League.

“E-Gon” also helps manage his family’s Gonzalez Sports Academy in the San Diego suburb of Chula Vista, whose baseball instructors include both Gonzalez brothers and Padres catcher Nick Hundley.

Friday, December 10, 2010


Mazatlan Venados manager Lorenzo Bundy says he is planning to be the skipper for the Los Angeles Dodgers’ AAA affiliate in Albuquerque in 2011. “It is not something that is official,” Bundy told Puro Beisbol, “but I will advance it.” The Isotopes play in the Pacific Coast League.

The 51-year old Bundy was manager of the Dodgers’ Arizona Rookie League in 2010 after spending the 2009 season coaching with the Arizona Diamondbacks for then-manager Bob Melvin. Currently in his third winter managing in Mazatlan, Bundy says he has a good relationship with new Dodgers manager Don Mattingly: “Last year I did the tour with the Dodgers in China and Taiwan, and was in training camp, too.” His Arizona League team was 30-25 last summer to finish third in the four-team Central Division.

This will be Bundy’s second tour of duty managing Los Angeles’ top minor league team after running the Las Vegas 51s in 2007 and 2008. He’s been named the Mexican Pacific League’s Manager of the Year twice and has won LMP pennants with three different teams: Navojoa in 1999-00, Hermosillo in 2006-07 and Mazatlan in 2008-09.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


The Mexican League will play the 2011 schedule with 14 teams after both the Nuevo Laredo Tecolotes and Chihuahua Dorados have suspended operations for a season. The announcement was made at the Baseball Winter Meetings in Florida.

In the case of the Tecos, it was a case of the Liga finally saying “enough” to a continued lack of response to the question of who was controlling the team finances in Nuevo Laredo, an enquiry first made in last winter’s offseason. A final order to supply that information was given to the Tecos at the LMB Assembly in Mazatlan earlier this fall, but after it was apparent that none was forthcoming, the Nuevo Laredo franchise was suspended for next year (although rights to the team still remain in the border city).

Chihuahua management then asked for a one-year hiatus while the team seeks a new home. The request was granted. The Dorados entered last winter surrounded by questions about the team’s future in Chihuahua, but enough local investors in Chihuahua were rounded up to keep the team in town for a season. This time, Dorados proprietor Jose Maiz (who also owns the Monterrey Sultanes) asked for a year off to move the team, likely to the city of Leon, where Estadio Domingo Santana is in need of upgrades to make it compliant with ballpark requirements.

With the elimination of the two teams, the Liga will move the Puebla Pericos to the Northern Zone to create two seven-team divisions.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Maybe Dave Machemer wasn’t the problem in Mexicali in the first place. The longtime manager in the San Francisco Giants minor league system was fired after he led the Aguilas to an 18-17 record in the first half to finish in a four-way tie for fourth place, one game out of a three-way logjam for first.

Enter Marco Antonio Guzman, a catcher for 19 Mexican League seasons (mostly with Campeche) in the 1980’s and 1990’s. The Tijuana native lasted all of 12 games with the Aguilas, turning in a 4-8 record before being relieved of his duties on December 6 and returned to his previous job as the team’s third base coach. Now it’s Francisco “Chico” Rodriguez’ turn to try living up to managerial expectations.

Rodriguez (pictured managing Monclova) certainly has the pedigree. As a player, the brother of former major league star Aurelio Rodriguez parlayed a 20-year Mexican League career at shortstop into 2,186 lifetime hits, a lifetime .270 batting average and election to the Salon de la Fama in 2004. He also spent 20 seasons in the Mex Pac, hitting .235. As a manager, Rodriguez took over a moribund Chihuahua team and managed the Dorados to a 59-48 record and a playoff berth last summer after the team went 40-67 in the Liga’s Northern Zone for 2009. He also led Los Mochis to their last Mex Pac pennant in 2002-03.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


The defending Mexican Pacific League champion Hermosillo Naranjeros have an 8-4 record and are in a three-way tie for the second half standings lead with Los Mochis and Mazatlan as Orangemen star Luis Alfonso Garcia (pictured) is making a strong bid for his second straight Most Valuable Player award. Culiacan is two games out of first at 6-6, Navojoa and Obregon are tied for fifth with 5-7 marks, while Mexicali and first half champion Guasave bring up the rear at 4-8.

While the Naranjeros have benefitted from the pitching of Travis Blackley and recent import add-on Mike Burns, Garcia has been the biggest factor as the 6’4” slugger has bashed a league-best 19 homers and 50 RBIs in 47 games with a .292 average. He belted 21 homers in 93 games for Monterrey last summer. Justin Christian of Los Mochis leads the Mex Pac in hitting (.383), runs (44) and stolen bases (22).

Blackley has been a standout on the mound for Hermosillo, posting a league-leading 2.09 ERA to go with his 5-1 record, while Burns has won his last four games to go to 4-0 with a 2.05 ERA. Mochis’ Alberto Castillo has the LMP’s best record at 7-1, Mexicali’s Andy Sisco tops the strikeouts list with 61 and Mazatlan closer Leo Rosales is best in the circuit with 11 saves, one more than Culiacan’s Jose Silva.

Monday, December 6, 2010


Although the deal teetered on the brink of collapse at one time, the San Diego Padres finally swapped three-time All-Star first baseman Adrian Gonzalez to the Boston Red Sox on Sunday for four prospects to finalize a long-anticipated deal.

Sent packing to the Padres in return for A-Gon are three top Bosox prospects (pitcher Casey Kelly, first baseman Anthony Rizzo and outfielder Raymond Fuentes) and a fourth player to be named later. The Red Sox are said to be interested in signing Gonzalez to a long-term deal. He is slated to earn $6.25 million next season, a bargain for a player of his caliber.

Sports Illustrated reported earlier that if the trade fell through, San Diego would keep Gonzalez for the 2011 season and likely lose him to free agency afterward. Boston media reports say the Red Sox will be taking a wait-and-see approach in spring training to make sure Gonzalez’ right shoulder, which underwent surgery after the 2010 season, will be healthy enough to justify entering into long-term contract talks.

The trade forced Gonzalez to miss the opening ceremonies for the Liga Olmeca youth baseball organization Saturday in Mexico City, although his brother Edgar (who now plays for Japan’s Yomiuri Giants) was on hand to throw the first pitch.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


"Have Fastball - Will Travel." Former National League Rookie of the Year Scott Williamson is hoping to spend the winter pitching in Mexico. Williamson won ROY honors in 1999 after going 12-7 with 19 saves and a 2.41 ERA for the Cincinnati Reds. Now 34, the 6’0” righty spent nine seasons in the majors, fashioning a 28-28 record with 55 saves and a 3.36 ERA (with 510 strikeouts in 439 innings) before arm miseries derailed his career.

After his last MLB outing with Baltimore in 2007, Williamson struggled to get his groove back before spending much of 2010 out of the game while spending eight weeks at the Athletes Performance training facility before signing with the Somerset Patriots of the independent Atlantic League during the season and was dominant, going 11-for-11 in save opportunities with 21 strikeouts in 16 innings. Moreover, his fastball was clocked a number of times at 97 MPH and he appeared to regain his once-nasty slider. “I’m stronger than I’ve been in years,” Williamson stated after the season, and now he wants to spend time in the Mex Pac to show big league organizations in need of pitching that his strong showing last summer was no fluke.

Agent Tom Godfrey says several MLB teams have told him they want to see Williamson pitch in the Mexican Pacific League this winter. “They’ll like what they see,” the pitcher says. “I can help someone win down there. I just need a chance to prove it.”

Saturday, December 4, 2010


Rather than test the trade market or free agent waters, the Colorado Rockies decided to bring back pitcher Jorge de la Rosa by signing the free agent to a contract worth up to $43 million over four years. De la Rosa will receive a guaranteed $9.5 million in 2011 and $10 million in 2012 plus a player option of $11 million for 2013 (with a $1 million buyout). If he exercises his option, the Rockies have a team option for another $11 million in 2014. The 29-year-old Monterrey native earned $5.6 million with the Rockies in 2010.

According to Jim Armstrong of the Denver Post, de la Rosa turned down better offers from the Pittsburgh Pirates and Washington Nationals to remain in Colorado, where he is being projected as the Rockies’ number two starter behind Ubaldo Jimenez. The 6’1” lefty was 8-7 in 2010 after winning 26 games for Colorado the two previous seasons. His strikeout rate of 8.95 per nine innings since coming to Denver in 2008 is the all-time best among Rockies starters.

Had de la Rosa accepted another offer, the Rockies would have had to search for a proven starter to replace him in the rotation. Free agents Carl Pavano and Kevin Millwood were potential possibilities, as were trades involving Tampa Bay’s James Shields and Gavin Floyd of the Chicago White Sox.

Friday, December 3, 2010


Brothers Adrian and Edgar Gonzalez (pictured with Edgar on left) will be on hand Saturday in Mexico City for the annual opening ceremonies of the Liga Olmeca youth baseball organization. The Liga Olmeca is one of Mexico’s biggest and strongest organizations for budding ballplayers, and a number of current and former major leaguers have taken part in past openers, including Vinny Castilla, Jorge Cantu, Esteban Loaiza, Rodrigo Lopez and last year's special guest, Alfredo Aceves.

The Gonzalez brothers were invited by New York Yankees scout Carlos Fragoso, an Obregon native and current Mexico City resident active with the Liga Olmeca. Fragoso is a godfather to both as the result of a lifelong friendship with their father David, himself a former star amateur ballplayer and head of what ESPN senior writer Jorge Arangure, Jr. once called “the first family of Mexican baseball.”

Adrian Gonzalez is coming off another banner season with the San Diego Padres, for whom he hit .298 with 31 homers and 101 RBIs this year. Edgar, who played alongside Adrian in San Diego, played for the Yomiuri Giants in Japan last summer and hit .263 with 12 homers in 100 games.

Opening ceremonies will be streamed live on the Liga Olmeca website at

Thursday, December 2, 2010


The Obregon Yaquis have made a host of moves to improve their performance after a 1-6 start to the second half. Three import players are being brought in, the most notable being pitcher Brian Lawrence (pictured).

Lawrence, a 34-year-old right-hander, won 37 games for the San Diego Padres between 2002 and 2004 before suffering through a 7-15 season in 2005. Lawrence has largely bounced around the minors ever since, although he did go 1-2 in six starts for the New York Mets in 2007. Last summer he was 11-8 with a 4.42 ERA for the Marlins’ AAA affiliate in New Orleans.

The Yaquis also signed pitchers Randy Keisler and Ryan Houston. Keisler pitched for five teams in six major league seasons to post a 4-4 record and 6.63 ERA. He was 3-3 for Laguna in the Mexican League last summer. Houston has played 12 years of minor league ball since 1999. He joined the Astros’ AAA team in Salt Lake City in 2010 after saving 18 games for Somerset of the independent Atlantic League.

Obregon cut infielder Nelson Teilon to bring in shortstop Everth Cabrera, who hit .208 in 76 games for San Diego in 2010. Also sent to the LMP player pool were outfielder Leobardo Arauz and infielder Nicolas Garcia.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Luis Navarrete (pictured batting) cracked a homer and scored another run to lead the North to a 7-0 shutout over the South in the Mexican Northwest League’s All-Star Game on Sunday in Puerto Vallarta.

Navarrete, who plays for Acaponeta, drilled a three-run cuadrangular in the third inning off Compostela’s Benjamin Sandoval to break a scoreless tie and scored another run in the fifth on an error. Tuxpan’s Ramon Soto belted a homer in the sixth to pad the North lead as Tuxpan’s Demetrio Gutierrez earned the win in relief with two strikeouts in one scoreless inning. Sandoval took the loss for the South after coughing up four runs on as many hits in two frames. Navarrete was named the game’s MVP.
The North squad was populated by players from Santiago, Tuxpan and Acaponeta while the South was represented by products from Compostela, Tepic and host Puerto Vallarta.

Before the game, several field contests were held among individual All-Stars. Santiago’s Enrique Trujillo made the best throw from center field to home plate, Arturo Rodriguez of Acaponeta beat out other catchers with the best toss from behind home plate to second base and Tuxpan infielder Edwin Wilson outdueled teammate Antonio Lamas in the Home Run Derby.