Monday, February 13, 2023


Joey Terdoslavich with Mexicali in 2021
    After winning the Mexican Pacific League championship series against Guasave last month for the city's fourth pennant in over 70 winters, Los Mochis players and coaches boarded a plane for Caracas, Venezuela as the Mex Pac's representative at the Caribbean Series.

    However, since the Caneros roster for the Crown Jewel of Latin Baseball included 18 reinforcements and just 10 players who'd actually worn a Los Mochis uniform during the regular season, we will refer to them as Team Mexico for the rest of this article. This was more an all-star team than it was the Caneros.

    Team Mexico finished tied for first in the eight-team, round-robin standings with a 5-2 record before dropping a semifinal match against eventual champions Dominican Republic but managed to cop third place with a 1-0 consolation game win over Colombia. The following game accounts are translated (and edited) stories from the LMP website, with some important missing details added.

Thursday, February 2: Mexico 5, Dominican Republic 4

    The Mexicans opened play for both the Serie del Caribe and Caracas' brand-new Estadio La Rinconada with a 5-4 win over the Dominican Republic (Licey Tigres).

    In the second inning, the first-ever hit at the 37,000-seat ballpark arrived on a single by Ramón Hernández for the Dominicans, followed by a double by Mel Rojas Jr. to place men in the corners. A Kelvin Gutiérrez grounder to shortstop brought Hernández home for a 1-0 lead. With two outs, Webster Rivas brought Rojas in with the second run of the game with a double to the left.

    Although the third brought another score for the Dominican Republic on an RBI double by Robinson Canó, Mexico rang in the fourth with a single by José Cardona, who was later brought in on a hit by by Justin Dean.

    With the scoreboard showing a 4-1 lead for the Dominicans, Mexico scored in the "lucky seventh" with Reynaldo Rodríguez' solo home run (first in the history of the park) off left-hander Raúl Valdés to left field.

    In the eighth, after Mexico narrowed the gap to 4-3 when Cardona scored, Domincan manager José Offerman brought Jairo Asencio in from the bullpen to face Fernando Villegas, who was pinch-hitting for Irving López with two men on base. The LMP Rookie of the Year hit a two-run double to the left to give Mexico a 5-4 lead which held up for the first victory of the 2023 Serie del Caribe Gran Caracas for Mexico.

    Braulio Torres-Pérez started for Mexico, allowing three runs over 5 innings. He was relieved by César Vargas, Rafael Córdova (who scored the victory), Samuel Zazueta and Jake Sánchez, who obtained the first save of the Caribbean classic.

Friday, February 3: Curacao 2, Mexico 1

    In a close game, the Mexican nine suffered their first defeat at the tournament with a 2-1 loss to Curacao (Willemstad Wildcats KJ74) at the La Rinconada Stadium.

    Curaçao opened the scoring in the third inning off Mexico starter Matt Pobereyko. It was a Ray-Patrick Diddier double that sent Roger Bernadina home with the game's first score. The Curacao lead was raised to 2-0 in the fifth inning when Bernadina sent Edmond Americaan across the plate with a single.

    Mexico had left the bases full in the third inning, but Joey Terdoslavich took it upon himself to cut the lead in half in the bottom of the sixth inning, belting the second home run for Mexico in the CS by connecting off Néstor Molina. The 2017 Mexican League Pitcher of the Year with Veracruz was lifted after Terdoslavich's bomb but Mexico was unable to touch the Curacao relievers for a run the rest of the way.

    The defeat went to Pobereyko, Molina took the victory and the save went to Wendell Floranus.

Saturday, February 4: Mexico 7, Colombia 6

    Coming from behind on a couple of occasions, tying the game in the eighth and going ahead in the ninth on a bases-loaded hit for Roberto “Tito” Valenzuela, Mexico held on for a 7-6 win over Colombia (Monteria Vaqueros) for their second victory in the Caribbean Series.

    Both teams attacked early. Defending CS champs Colombia scored two runs in the top of the first against Mexican starter Darel Torres, but Mexico responded immediately in the lower part of the same frame. Roberto Valenzuela doubled in Justin Dean and Rodolfo Amador singled in Valenzuela to tie the score at 2-2.

    The cheers of the Mexican fans who made the trip to Caracas were heard at La Rinconada Stadium after Juan Uriarte launched the ball to left in the second for the third home run of Mexico in Caracas, most of any team at that point of the Series.

    In the fifth, Colombia hurt Mexico as reliever César Vargas let in a run and later Luis Márquez was torched with Andrés Angulo's home run with runners in the corners to give the Colombians a 6-3 lead.

    In the eighth, Colombia reliever Jhon Peluffo came in and got into trouble with an error before an Amador hit scored two and Orlando Piña's RBI single off Francisco Jimenez tied the tilt at 6-6.

    In the ninth came the triumph. Leadoff batter Julián Ornelas singled, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Jasson Atondo and then, after intentional walks to José Cardona and (inexplicably) Dean to load the bases, scored the walkoff run from third on a Valenzuela single.

    Torres opened the game for Mexico and pitched four innings, allowing two runs on four hits before leaving without decision. He was relieved by Vargas, Márquez, Brandon Koch, Fabián Cota, Irvin Machuca and winner Juan Gamez. The defeat was handed to Óscar Marcelino, who allowed the winning run on two intentional walks and Valenzuela's hit in one-third of an inning's labor.

Sunday, February 5: Mexico 6, Cuba 5

    The Mexicans won their third game in the Caribbean Series, defeating the Farmers of Cuba (Bayamo Agriculdoras) by a 6-5 score. With this, the Mex Pac representatives lifted their record in 3 victories and 1 defeat to rank among the top four for semifinal berths.

    Mexico did damage again in the first inning on a second consecutive day by scoring three off Cuban starter Ángel Sánchez, who received all the damage with a run-scoring single by Rodolfo Amador and a two-run double by Joey Terdoslavich to take an early 3-0 lead.

    Cuba responded in the lower part of the second inning, leading off with with two singles sandwiched around a walk off Mexico starter Jeff Kinley to load the bases, followed by errors by third baseman Rudy Amador and shortstop Tito Valenzuela to open the door for a 5-run rally to turn the scoreboard around to a 5-3 Cuban lead.

    But Team Mexico quickly responded in the third. Valenzuela opened the attack with a single and with one out, Amador also hit a single and Joey Terdoslavich negotiated a walk to fill the bases. Valenzuela came in on a single by Julián Ornelas and, after the second out, Jasson Atondo got his first hit of the classic Caribbean with a single to left that sent Amador and Ornelas to the pentagon and regained the lead at 6-5. Neither team scored again the rest of the game.

    Kinley got the win after throwing six four-hit innings and allowing five runs (three unearned). He was relieved by Rafael Córdova, Samuel Zazueta and Jake Sánchez, who obtained his second save. The defeated went to Kelbis Rodríguez (7.1IP/3R/8H).

Monday, February 6: Mexico 7, Venezuela 0

    LMP Pitcher of the Year Luis Medina came out in "hateful" mode to throw six shutout innings against host Venezuela (Caracas Leones), work that was backed by a 13-hit, 7-run offensive attack for Mexico to win their fourth of five games in the 2023 Caribbean Series in beating Venezuela, 7 to 0.

    The scoreboard at La Rinconada Stadium posted the first run of the game in the second inning. Reynaldo Rodríguez led off with a base on balls, Rodolfo Amador sent him to third with a double and then Joey Terdoslavich reached 5 RBIs in the Caribbean classic when he sent both Rodríguez and Amador to the plate with a double.

    A cluster of four runs came to Mexico in the third, when the top of the batting order opened for the second time. Like Rodriguez in the second, José Cardona also began the third with a walk, Justin Dean hit a single that placed men in the corners and then went on to steal second base. Immediately afterwards, Roberto Valenzuela emptied the mats with a triple to left-center that marked the exit of Venezuelan starter J.C. Ramírez, a six-year MLB veteran who pitched two winters in Culiacan between 2019-21.

    However, reliever Norwith Gudiño could not contain Rodríguez, whose single took Valenzuela to the promised land.

    The seventh run for Mexico arrived in the upper part of the eighth inning. Irving López hit a triple and was brought in with a single by catcher José Heberto Félix.

    Miranda unleashed a total of 93 pitches, 62 of them strikes, with one walk and seven strikeouts to command the shutout that was completed by Samuel Zazueta, Brandon Koch, Rafael Córdova and Juan Gamez. Ramírez took the loss for Venezuela with 2+ innings of labor, allowing five hits and as many runs.

Tuesday, February 7: Mexico 2, Panama 1

    Team Mexico triumphed again in Venezuela, this time at Estadio Forum LaGuaria Stadium, defeating Panama (Chiriqui Federales), 2-1, thus obtaining their fifth victory in six games at the Serie del Caribe Gran Caracas 2023.

    In a duel that would ultimately be so close, Mexico did well to take advantage of their opportunities from the beginning. They scored in the first inning for the third time in this tournament, with Reynaldo Rodríguez's sacrifice fly to score Irving López, who had singled up the middle and advanced to third on a fielding error by Panamanian center fielder Ariel Sandoval.

    In the fourth, Panama equaled the blackboard at 1-1. Jhonny Santos hit a double to score Jahdiel Santamaria from first and advanced to third on left fielder Julio Ornelas' throw home, which failed to beat Santamaria. Mexico got a second out when starter Braulio Torres-Pérez pounced on a bunt by Enrique Valdez and nailed Santos at the plate, with Valdez safe at first. A Joshwan Wright double put two runners in scoring position as Valdez stopped at third, but the inning ended with a jewel on defense by Irving López at second who culminated the episode with a throw to first that beat batter Rodrigo Orozco for the third out with the score still tied at one run apiece.

    Mexico's breakthrough came in the bottom of the fifth in old-school style. José Cardona opened with a single, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by López and scored the second (and final) run in a steal of third that drew a bad throw by Panama catcher Ivan Herrera that allowed Cardona to scamper the final 90 feet to the plate.

    In the eighth inning, Mexican reliever Rafael Córdova gave up a leadoff double to Sandoval and hurt his arm in the process. He gave his place on the mound to Luis Márquez, who was able to finish the inning with the bases full to maintain Mexico's 2-1 lead and closer Jake Sanchez threw a 1-2-3 ninth to seal the deal for the winners.

    Torres-Pérez came away with the victory after throwing 5.2 innings of 1-run, 5-hit ball, striking out five Panamanians and walking two. He was relieved by Fabián Cota, Irvin Machuca, Córdova, Márquez and Sánchez, who obtained his third save in the CS. Defeat was carried by Panama's left-handed starter, Davis Romero (4.1IP/2R/4H).

Wednesday, February 8: Puerto Rico 9, Mexico 3

    The Mexican nine closed their round-robin schedule by falling at Estadio La Rinconada Stadium, 9-3, to Puerto Rico (Mayagüez Indios) to finish with a record of 5 victories and 2 losses for a first-place tie at the conclusion of the first round.

    Puerto Rico put together rallies in the first and fourth innings, making one and four runs, respectively, off Mexico starter Darel Torres.

    Mexico again showed that their bats were in tune during the fourth inning. Joey Terdoslavich brought in the first run with a sacrifice fly and a single from Rookie of the Year Fernando Villegas sent Rodolfo Amador and Jasson Atondo to the plate, all off Puerto Rican starter Alex Sanabia, who went 22-23 with a 5.73 ERA in the Mexican League between 2016 and 2019 and pitched for Tijuana's 2017 Serie del Rey champions.

    Puerto Rico's lead was expanded with a two-run double by Roby Enriquez against lefty Luis Márquez in the eighth inning while a two-run single by Vimael Machin off Irvin Machuca ended the scoring at 9-3 in favor of the Boricuans.

    The winning pitcher was Sanabia, who worked five 6-hit innings while allowing three runs. The duel was opened for Team Mexico by Torres, who took the loss by letting in five runs in 2.2 innings pitched. He was relieved by Miguel Vázquez, César Vargas, Márquez, Machuca and Juan Gámez.

Thursday, February 9: Domincan Republic 7, Mexico 3 (semifinal)

    The Dominican Republic (Licey Tigres) prevailed over Mexico by an 8 to 3 score at the Estadio Forum La Guaira Stadium in their semifinal matchup in the Serie del Caribe Gran Caracas 2023.

    The Dominicans scored single runs in the first and second innings off Mexico starter Matt Pobereyko on a bases-loaded Mel Rojas Jr. sacrifice fly and a Gustavo Nunez single, respectively. Two more Dominican runs charged to Pobereyko crossed the plate in the fourth inning when reliever Fabian Cota allowed a two-out, two-run single to Henry Urrutia, one of the Mexican League's top hitters for Saltillo during the summer who turns 36 today.

    With the score 5-0 in favor of the Dominicans, Mexico reacted by scoring a pair in the bottom of the fourth. With the sacks full, Julián Ornelas singled Roberto Valenzuela from third to put the Mexicans on the scoreboard. The second run came thanks to a sacrifice fly by Jasson Atondo to center that sent Rodolfo Amador to the plate.

    The Dominican Republic expanded their advantage when Kelvin Gutiérrez homered with Mel Rojas Jr. on board against left-hander Samuel Zazueta in the seventh to make it a 7-2 game and although Ornelas' RBI sac fly in the eighth brought Mexico to within four runs, the Dominicans scored once more in the ninth for their final margin of victory

    Esmil Rogers pitched six innings for the win, allowing two Mexican runs on five hits. Poberyko absorbed the loss after letting in four Dominican runs on six hits over 3.2 innings.

Friday, February 10: Mexico 1, Colombia 0 (consolation game)

    Team Mexico concluded their participation in the Caribbean Series Gran Caracas 2023 last Friday, obtaining third place after beating Colombia (Monteria Vaqueros) in a 1-0 shutout at Estadio La Rinconada. Jeff Kinley was colossal on the hill after blanking the Colombians over six innings and scattering four hits and no walks to take his second victory for the Caribbean classic. Kinley was relieved by César Vargas and Jake Sánchez. who earned his fourth save in as many appearances in this Series, tying the all-time record.

    The only run of the match was produced by Joey Terdoslavich in the sixth inning with his 7th RBI, a two-out single that sent Irving López to the plate to gain an advantage for Team Mexico that would never be lost.

    In this way, the LMP season and the Caribbean Series concludes with Mexico achieving an historic third place finished, this being the first time that the bronze game has been played between the two teams that had fallen in the semifinals. The Dominican Republic shut out Venezuela, 3-0, in Friday night's championship game to give the representative Licey Tigres their 11th Serie del Caribe title.

Joey Terdoslavich was Mexico's top batsman with a .346 average and seven RBI, followed by Rudy Amador at .320, Jose Heberto Felix' .304 mark and the .294 average of Jose Cardona, whose 10 hits led the team (which batted an aggregate .234 to finish seventh in the eight-team field). Jeff Kinley was the best starter with a 2-0 record and 2.25 ERA over 12 innings. Three relievers had 0.00 ERAs in a combined 13 appearances: Jake Sanchez, Fabian Cota and Rafael Cordova. Mexico's 3.33 team ERA was fourth in the tournament.

    The Caribbean Professional Baseball Confederation (via CEO Jorge Bauza) unveiled the All-Stars of the 2023 Caribbean Series. Five members of the team from Colombia were selected along with two players each from Mexico and Venezuela, and one apiece from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.

    Mexico catcher Jose Heberto Felix and first baseman Reynaldo Rodriguez were chosen as players along with Dream Team manager José Moreno, the Los Mochis pilot who became the first Venezuelan pilot to be tabbed since Carlos Subero in 2006.

Catcher: José Heberto Félix (Mexico)
First base: Reynaldo Rodríguez (Mexico)
Second base: Francisco Acuña (Colombia)
Third base: Emmanuel Rivera (Puerto Rico)
Shortstop: Dayan Frías (Colombia)
Left fielder: Danry Vásquez (Venezuela)
Center fielder: Emilio Bonifacio (Dominican Republic)
Right fielder: Gustavo Campero (Colombia)
Designated hitter: Jordan Díaz (Colombia)
Starting pitcher: Eduardo Díaz (Colombia)
Relief pitcher: Anthony Vizcaya (Venezuela)
MANAGER: Jose Moreno (Mexico)


    The following story was written by Thomas Harrigan for the website:

Alex Verdugo with Mexico-inspired glove
    After early exits in each of the previous two World Baseball Classics, Mexico is back in 2023 with a talent-laden roster that could have the country poised for its deepest WBC run yet. With newcomers such as Julio Urías, Alejandro Kirk, Randy Arozarena, Rowdy Tellez, Patrick Sandoval and Taijuan Walker joining the team under manager Benji Gil, Mexico could be a formidable foe when the 2023 World Baseball Classic gets underway in March.

    Here is a position-by-position breakdown of Mexico. Within each position, players are listed in alphabetical order, with any affiliation to an MLB organization noted in parentheses.

CATCHERS: Austin Barnes (Dodgers), Alejandro Kirk (Blue Jays)

    One of three Dodgers players on Mexico’s roster, Barnes has spent his entire career with Los Angeles after making his MLB debut in 2015. The veteran backstop won a World Series title with the team in 2020.

    Kirk earned his first All-Star appearance in 2022, starting behind the plate for the American League. The 24-year-old won a Silver Slugger Award after hitting .285 with 14 homers and a .786 OPS over 139 games for the Blue Jays.

INFIELDERS: Jonathan Aranda (Rays), Joey Meneses (Nationals), Isaac Paredes (Rays), Rowdy Tellez (Brewers), Alan Trejo (Rockies), Luis Urías (Brewers), Roberto Valenzuela

    After playing for Mexico in the 2017 World Baseball Classic, Luis Urías will be joined by Brewers teammate Tellez, who popped a career-high 35 home runs for Milwaukee in 2022. Tellez is one of several first-base options for Mexico, along with Aranda and Meneses. Paredes also saw time at first base for the Rays in 2022.

    It will be interesting to see how Meneses performs in his WBC debut after making his long-awaited big league debut last season and putting up impressive numbers. The 30-year-old Meneses -- who spent time playing in the Minors, Japan and Mexico before getting the call to the big leagues -- hit .324 with 13 homers and a .930 OPS over 56 games for Washington.

OUTFIELDERS: Randy Arozarena (Rays), Jose Cardona, Jarren Duran (Red Sox), Alek Thomas (D-backs), Alex Verdugo (Red Sox)

    Part of a heavy Rays contingent on Team Mexico, Arozarena is another player making his WBC debut. Though he was born in Cuba, Arozarena defected from the country as a 19-year-old in 2015 and settled in Mexico. He rose to prominence during the 2020 postseason, setting MLB playoff records for homers (10) and hits (29). His encore? Winning the AL Rookie of the Year Award in 2021. He became a Mexican citizen in 2022.

    Mexico’s other four outfield options all have MLB experience, too, none more so than Verdugo, who has played 509 games in the Majors for the Dodgers and Red Sox and owns a .286/.341/.431 slash with 44 homers in his career. He played for Team Mexico during the 2017 WBC as well.

PITCHERS (16): Erubiel Armenta (Phillies)*, Javier Assad (Cubs), Luis Cessa (Reds), Jesus Cruz (Phillies), Giovanny Gallegos (Cardinals), Adrian Martinez (A’s), Gerardo Reyes (Angels), Wilmer Rios, JoJo Romero (Cardinals)*, Jake Sanchez (Padres), Patrick Sandoval (Angels)*, Julio Urías (Dodgers)*, José Urquidy (Astros), César Vargas, Taijuan Walker (Phillies), Samuel Zazueta* * denotes left-handed pitcher

    Walker and Urquidy are among the notable starting options for Team Mexico in this year’s Classic. Walker, an All-Star with the Mets in 2021, has posted a career 3.89 ERA over 898 innings in the Majors. Urquidy doesn’t have as much experience as Walker, but he has made appearances in three World Series for the Astros and owns a career 3.74 ERA over 342 innings in the regular season.

    Mexico figures to lean on Gallegos in the late innings, with the right-hander having notched a 2.84 ERA with 33 saves for the Cardinals over the past four seasons. He made one appearance for Mexico in the 2017 WBC. Cessa is another bullpen arm on the roster with significant MLB experience.

    After following up a 20-win season with an NL-leading 2.16 ERA and a third-place finish in the NL Cy Young Award voting last year, Urías (unrelated to Luis) is expected to front Team Mexico’s starting staff in the 2023 Classic. Sandoval, who has recorded a 3.17 ERA for the Angels over the past two seasons, gives Mexico another impressive option from the left side.


Estadio Fernando Valenzuela, Hermosillo
    Hermosillo's Estadio Sonora, the showcase ballpark for the Mexican Pacific League's Naranjeros since 2013, has been renamed Estadio Fernando Valenzuela. The decree from the state government (which owns the 16,000-seat facility) was signed by Sonora governor Alfonso Durazo last week.

    After the Los Angles Dodgers had announced that they will retire Valenzuela's number 34, Durazo initially proposed changing the name of the Hermosillo ballpark in honor of its native son, who was born in the Navojoa suburb of Etchohuaquila.

    “We recognize his extraordinary career and, therefore, we made the proposal to change the name of the Sonora Stadium to Fernando Valenzuela, in honor of the legend and great figure of Mexican baseball. Congratulations!”, Indicated the state president on his Twitter account.

    It became official on February 9 when it was reported that a decree published in the Official Gazette of the State of Sonora indicates that the Sonora Baseball Stadium, located in Hermosillo, this year will change its name to Fernando Valenzuela Stadium. Governor Durazo confirmed the report.

    Valenzuela, whom Durazo called "our Sonoran pride," spent 11 of his 17 years in the Major Leagues with the Dodgers and due to his sporting and cultural impact, they decided to retire his number 34 so that no other player can wear it. Now 62, Valenzuela owns the Mexican League's Quintana Roo Tigres of Cancun along with wife Linda Burgos Valenzuela.

    The left-handed pitcher made his professional baseball debut with the Guanajuato Tuzos of the Mexican Center League in 1978 as a 17-year-old, going 5-6 with a 2.33 ERA and a league-leading 91 strikeouts. That was enough for the Mexican League Yucatan Leones to sign him to a contract for 1979. That year, Valenzuela went 10-12 for the Leones, showing a 2.49 ERA and striking out 141 batters. The Dodgers bought his contract from Yucatan and sent him to Lodi of the Class A California League for three games at season's end and while his 1-2 record was unimpressive, Valenzuela's 1.13 ERA in 24 innings raised eyebrows with the big club.

    One year later, Valenzuela won two late-season starts and began a decade-long “Fernandomania” sensation, during which he led the National League with 180 strikeouts in his rookie 1981, topped the circuit with 21 wins in 1986, appeared in six consecutive All-Star Games and three times in the playoffs, including a complete-game 5-4 win over the New York Yankees in the 1981 World Series, which the Dodgers won in six games.

    More important, Valenzuela came from out of nowhere (as far as MLB fans were concerned) and became a cultural icon to Mexican fans on both sides of the border, with attendance at Dodgers Stadium spiking precipitously whenever he started a game. “El Toro” is arguably the most beloved Mexican MLB player of all-time.

    Estadio Sonora was completed in early 2013 as a replacement for Estadio Hector Espino, which is now owned by the federal government with the intent of repurposing it into a baseball academy. The 2013 Caribbean Series was the inaugural event at Estadio Sonora and was won by the Mexican Pacific League champion Obregon Yaquis, a longtime rival of the hometown Hermosillo Naranjeros. Since its opening, the 16,000-seat facility has ranked at or near the top of rankings of home ballparks for Mexico's 28 professional teams.

    And now it will be known as Estadio Fernando Valenzuela, after Mexico's top-ranking major league pitcher of all time.