Monday, October 24, 2016

Mexican Nationals to play two games in Japan

As a tuneup for next spring's World Baseball Classic, the Mexican National Baseball Team is cobbling together a roster of players to travel to Tokyo for a pair of November exhibition games against their counterparts from Japan.

The Verde Grande will take on Samurai Japan at the Tokyo Dome in November 10 and 11.  Mexican skipper Edgar Gonzalez has already lined up a number of prominent players to make the trip across the Pacific, including a pair of mainstays of Puebla's Mexican League championship team.  Liga MVP Cesar Tapia will take his catcher's gear to Tokyo, where he'll work again with BBM Playoff MVP Mauricio Lara.  Tapia led the LMB with a .383 batting average, including 21 homers and 94 RBIs, to raise his 12-year career batting average to .336.  Lara, the younger brother of former outfielder Bobby "The Animal" Lara, posted a 13-3 regular season record for the Pericos before going 3-0 with a 1.29 ERA in the postseason.

Joining Tapia and Lara in Japan will be pitchers Hector Daniel Rodriguez and Jose Oyervides, designated hitter Japhet Amador, catcher Humberto Sosa, second baseman Esteban Quiroz, shortstop Ramiro Pena, third sacker Agustin Murillo and outfielders Jose Aguilar and Leo Heras.  More players are being recruited for the trip and undoubtedly a call will be made to manager Gonzalez' younger brother Adrian, who swatted two homers in the MLB playoffs this month after hitting .285 with 18 homers and 90 RBIs for the Dodgers during the regular season.  However, the smooth-fielding "El Titan" (who tied San Diego's Wil Myers as the top defensive first baseman in the National League with a .998 fielding percentage) just finished his season in Los Angeles and may want to take some time off after ten months of baseball, starting in spring training.

The Dutch National Team will also make the journey to the Land of the Rising Sun, playing the Samurai in Tokyo on November 12 and 13.  Like Edgar Gonzalez, Netherlands manager Hensley Meulens spent time in Nippon Professional Baseball during his playing career.


Amador to make LMP season debut this week

Speaking of Japhet Amador, the hulking slugger is back in Mexico after an injury-plagued first season in Japan and is expected to make his winterball season debut this week for the Jalisco Charros.  The 29-year-old Gigante de Mulege only appeared in 37 games for the Rakuten Golden Eagles last summer, batting .258 with 9 homers and 19 RBIs.  He hurt his left wrist in March during training camp, sustained a bone contusion in his left hand in May and injured his left oblique muscle in September.  His summer wasn't a total so-called "lost season," as his wife gave birth to their second child in August back home in Mexico.

The 6'4" 311-pounder is hoping to get back on track after being named the 2015 Mexican League MVP by batting .346 with 41 homers and 117 RBIs in 103 games for Mexico City.  Amador led the Mexican Pacific League with 14 homers and 48 RBIs for Jalisco last winter despite signing with Rakuten with two weeks remaining in the regular season.

Amador made his Mexican League debut with Minatitlan in 2007, but struggled his first two years before batting .331 with 16 homers for the Petroleros in 2009. From that point on he's been one of Mexico's most-feared batsmen and eventually spent snippets of two seasons in the Astros organization.

According to Puro Beisbol editor Fernando Ballasteros, Amador has been working out with the Charros and is slated to make his 2016-17 LMP debut Tuesday night in Mexicali.


Caneros win four straight to tie Hermosillo for LMP lead

J.C. Linares batted 3-for-4 with three runs batted in and Jesus Arredondo socked a two-run homer to lead the Los Mochis Caneros to a 9-1 home win over Mazatlan Sunday in front of 7,961 fans at Estadio Emilio Ibarra Almada.  Former Padres farmhand Alexis Lara pitched five shutout innings to earn the win as the Caneros battered Venados starter Walter Silva for eight runs over 3.1 innings to hand Silva his second loss in three outings.  The victory capped a three-game Mochis sweep of Mazatlan and vaulted Luis Sojo's squad into a first-place tie with Hermosillo with identical 7-4 records.  The Naranjeros dropped home games over the weekend to Obregon.  The Yaquis beat Hermosillo, 5-4, as Christian Villanueva clouted two homers and added the game-winning RBI single in the top of the ninth.

Mexicali and Navojoa are tied for third in the MexPac's first-half standings at 6-5 while Jalisco, Culiacan and Obregon are knotted up in fifth at 5-6.  Mazatlan trails the field in eighth with a 3-8 mark.

Jalisco third baseman Agustin Murillo leads the LMP with a .487 batting average, Mochis' Linares has five homers to top the loop in that category, outfielder Ronnier Mustelier of Culiacan has the most RBIs with 16 while Obregon flychaser Justin Greene (who tied for the Mexican League lead with 29 stolen bases over the summer) tops the list with 7 swipes.

Among pitchers, Los Mochis' Julian Arballo is one of six pitchers with 2-0 records and has yet to give up an earned run in ten innings over two starts.  Another 2-0 hurler, Hector Velazquez of Navojoa, leads the MexPac with 18 strikeouts in 17 inning following three outings.  Hermosillo closer Paul Sewald allowed his first run of the campaign against Obregon in his fifth trip from the bullpen, but has converted four saves to lead LMP relievers in the young season.