Pitcher Bryan Chi Becomes the Ninth Cuban Player to Escape in Mexico

Player Bryan Chi (top left) is the ninth Cuban athlete to escape in Mexico. (Collage)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 2 October 2021 — With the escape this Saturday of Bryan Chi, 22, and Miguel Antonio González, 21, there are a total of nine players who have escaped from the Cuba team in Hermosillo, Mexico. With these ’desertions’, there are only 15 athletes left in the delegation of the Island participating in the U-23 World Baseball Championship, in the state of Sonora.

Chi left the national team hours before the bronze match against Colombia, sports reporter Francys Romero explained on his Facebook account. “Eight days of unprecedented exodus in the history of Cuban baseball emigration,” added the Miami-based expert.

For his part, González’s departure “occurred between 4:00 pm and 5:00 pm (Mexico time), according to three sources close to the situation,” Romero explained.

González, born in the province of Granma, was the captain of the Cuban team in the 2017 U-18 World Cup that was played in Canada. “He came from hitting .218 / .417 / .439, in 107 at-bats with the Alazanes de Granma in the last 60 National Series,” Romero explained in his text.

“There could be more flights in the next few hours, taking into account the proximity of the return to the island,” the journalist warned.

Before Chi and González, pitchers Yeinel Zayas, Luis Dennys Morales, Uber Mejías, Dariel Fernández, as well as catcher Loidel Rodríguez, outfielder Reinaldo Lazaga and infielder Diasmany Palacios had fled.

Lazaga, Fernández and Palacios fled the same day and with them “the record for the most dropouts in a Cuban baseball delegation was broken,” Romero said at the time. The most numerous had been in Mexico itself, in 1996, when five players who participated in the Copa de Clubes Campeones escaped.

Team manager Eriel Sánchez downplayed the flights of players. “There is no situation. There is no problem at all,” he said. “There is a good team, a leadership group and a complete delegation that we are going to be in position for the results,” he said in statements to Cuban television on September 26.

Questioned about some absences in the delegation, Sánchez said before the Cuban baseball team traveled to Mexico, in order to be a player worthy of representing the island at an international level, not only was it enough to play well, but the player had to “be a patriot.”

The island’s sports authorities have insisted on holding the United States responsible for the athlete’s abandonment. Last Saturday, the National Institute of Sports, Physical Education and Recreation (Inder) blamed the blocking the agreement between the Cuban Baseball Federation and Major League Baseball, for stimulating “the trafficking of athletes in defense of political interests.”

On its social networks, Inder insisted that the players’ walking-off  “confirms the cynicism with which the Trump Administration annulled the agreement,” which also created a “cruel disadvantage that prevents the natural flow to the circuits of that organization.”

Cuban television commentator Pavel Otero said that the Cuban baseball team “is facing one of the most hostile scenarios in the history of our sports movement.”

“Do not doubt that those unscrupulous traffickers of people, at the service of the enemies of the Revolution, will continue,” says Otero after announcing the news of the escape of the first athletes.

The streak of Cuban athletes  leaving in recent months, including those of the Judo competitors Ayumi Leyva and Nahomys Acosta, who left the island’s delegation last month during a stopover in Madrid, Spain, has damaged the image of Inde .

At the end of June, the athlete Raudelis Guerra also left the basketball delegation in Spain, on the way to the qualifying tournament for the World Cup, which took place in El Salvador. Guerra escaped from the entourage at the Madrid-Barajas Airport itself, where part of the national team made a stopover to continue on its way to the Central American country.

Almost a month earlier, there were other cases of desertions of athletes and collaborators who were part of the Cuban delegation at the Baseball Pre-Olympic in Florida. Second baseman César Prieto, pitchers Lázaro Blanco and Andy Rodríguez, and Jorge Sile Figueroa, team psychologist, left the delegation.


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