14ymedio, Ernesto Santana, 29 March 2018 — On March 20, the captain of Pinar del Rio’s baseball team, Donal Duarte Hernandez — El Lobo (the Wolf), as he is called — was sanctioned by the Baseball Commission of his province to a year’s suspension and forbidden to play on any other team. The provincial commissioner was also sanctioned for having reported the measure, but leaving Duarte free to play with the team that called him.
Fans are speculating on the true causes of this sanction. The official statement said that the reason was the player’s absence from the Provincial Series. However, it did not sound convincing, because that absence was not complete, and especially because El Lobo is one of the most respected and admired athletes in his province, a genuine captain who, in any case, did not deserve such severity.
Now, in an interview with the newspaper Guerrillero, Duarte stokes the doubts, as he described the measure as “quite unfair.” Given that he is 35, the seventeen National Series he has played in, and his history, the sanction seems excessive. Some specialists believe that, for veterans, it is too much to participate in a Provincial series and train for four months and then play another three at the National level.
“They have sanctioned me knowing that it was not because of a ‘provincial’ problem. It’s not my fault alone that Pinar del Río did not do well in the second round, because the team is not Donal Duarte,” said El Lobo, insisting that the director, Pedro Luis Lazo, had told him that he “had to play in the provincial.” However, several personal problems forced him to be absent.
It is well known that Duarte and Lazo were teammates for years and good friends. That fraternal relationship between director and captain seemed very propitious to the team’s success. In the last season, Duarte turned down a contract to play abroad to lead the team and support the rookie mentor Lazo.
To the question of whether that friendship has been damaged the interviewee replied: “I always wanted it because I have never hurt anyone, I have stopped being with my family to do good for others, I never interfered with his decisions about the team. I offered my opinions and my beliefs, that’s why we never had problems.”
But would the player rejoin if the penalty is suspended? Duarte says that does not depend on him, because that would be a situation that he would have to take up with his family. “It’s not as if tomorrow they lift my sanction and we just forget everything that has happened,” he clarifies. Although he thanks those who have defended him and expressed their disagreement with the measure.
The takeaway from the interview is that Duarte has filed a judicial appeal and his lawyer has a paper signed by director Lazo and by the provincial commissioner who “exempted him from playing.” Therefore, the captain says, the final result will tell who is right.
Translated by Jim
The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.