14ymedio, Havana, 18 January 2022 — Four days before the start of the 61st National Series, the desertions continue to multiply in Cuban baseball — this time, from Havana’s Industriales team. Veteran Wilfredo Aroche, 37 — with 13 seasons playing for the “Blues” — left the country to try his luck in Italy.
The player signed his own, independent contract with the Italian Baseball League, according to the sports site SwingCompleto. Aroche had been practicing in the Italian circuit in recent years, but this time he left Cuba without permission from the Cuban sports authorities. This caused the immediate suspension of the 61st Series.
This loss for the Industriales makes a dent in the team’s regular lineup and puts its captain, Guillermo Carmona — who considered Aroche a key piece — in check. Now, they’ll have to move the bench to replace the shortstop with less than a week to go before the tournament.
For the moment, Carmona will have to settle for 39 men on the team. Aroche was already in the roster, which impedes his replacement, according to the rule approved by the sports authorities.
Industriales, the capital city’s team, has been heavily bleeding talent for years. What was once an impetuous team that competed for the top spots in the national league has become one of the main sources of departing athletes, thus diminishing its quality and the enthusiasm of its followers.
“The situation leaves a lot to be desired for baseball fans in this country,” stated Dairán, a connoisseur of Cuban baseball, speaking to 14ymedio. “Our baseball was one of the best in the world, and now it isn’t worth a penny. To a great extent, this is because of the constant departures of the best players to other countries where they are paid what they should be,” added the young man, who resides in Cerro [a borough of Havana], very near the Estadio Latinoamericano.
The 61st series is being hit by players unexpectedly leaving as well as outbreaks of Covid-19 among the personnel. Barely a week ago, two young players in the Camagüey team — Yosimar Cousín and Yunior Tur — were discharged for “non-appearance at the conference,” according to sports authorities. Meanwhile, on the east side of the Island, the Holguín team was forced to quarantine its players after five of them tested positive for coronavirus.
Translated by: Alicia Barraqué Ellison
COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.