Marti detailed to CubaSi that the team is perfecting tactical issues with the newly acquired reinforcements. The goal is to involve all of them with the dynamics of Granma baseball team.
Cuban baseball is moving. I have no doubts. Former ace Yovani Aragon, temporary director of Cuban baseball, named Carlos Marti as Cuba’s manager to the World Baseball Classic. Marti is a connoisseur, serious, and fans called for his nomination. He is now 67, and more than 45 of them have been devoted to baseball.
Let’s talk then about pure baseball. Marti highlighted that this is going to be a short tournament with only four games. Cuba debuts on Feb. 1 against the Dominican Republic (Licey Tigers, or Cibao Eagles). Therefore, the team does not need more than three catchers.
The manager also suggested that Pinar del Rio first baseman William Saavedra will bat in the fifth spot behind OF Alfredo Despaigne. Meanwhile, he praised the central line with Frank Camilo Morejon, Yordan Manduley, Alexander Ayala, Yunior Paumier, and Dennis Laza.
Regarding the outfield, he said he picked Victor Victor Mesa over Julio Pablo Martinez because Julio Pablo features similar characteristics to that of Roel Santos. Both are left-handed center fields, speedy. Victor Victor, 20, seems to be on the verge of his sports maturity (354/399/539, 40 Stolen Bases).
Following this radiography we step into pitching. Marti announced his likely starting rotation to the Caribbean Series: Lazaro Blanco, Freddy Asiel Alvarez, Vladimir Garcia, and Vladimir Banos; Noelvis Entenza, Leandro Martinez, Cesar Garcia, Yoelkis Cruz, and Yanier Gonzalez will serve as mid relievers while Jose A. Garcia and Miguel Lahera will be the closers.
WORLD BASEBALL CLASSIC: THAT’S ANOTHER STORY
Is this version different from the Cuban baseball team that will represent us in the 4th WBC?
The difference is huge. There are going to be several changes. We will look for a uniform team. We already know we cannot compare to top contenders in the competition.
I personally believe the central line is paramount. Having an outstanding defensive catcher like Frank Camilo Morejon and great defenders around the horn, provide you positive elements to back up your pitching”.
Speaking of level, which are our strengths on the verge of these two competitions?
“Cuban baseball is recovering from the existing situation experienced after 3rd WBC. No one would dare to say our team is comparable to Japan, Dominican Republic, and South Korea. Nonetheless, we have a pretty good mix of young and veteran players. I believe that if we work together, we will be able to qualify to the next round.”
Are you surprised with the decision?
“Oh, it was a very nice surprise. I have spent 46 years in baseball. It’s a great responsibility.”
Any players you never remove from your team?
It’s a long list of players and I can pick much better now. There is time to focus on their virtues and flaws. The best example is Cepeda. If he is healthy, he will be important. He is the best Cuban hitter in international events and you can’t ignore that. Alarcon is another player with several positive characteristics. He is fast, decent power and contact hitter.”
What is the difference between Granma and Team Cuba?
Granma: the fighting spirit and the will to play better. We are united and our goal is to play good baseball. Luckily, we may bring all of these together to the Classic. Our pool is tough. Japan will be solid. Australia has always played well against us in the main tournaments of this century so far and China is the weakest team, apparently. Our goal is to advance and to do so, we must win the Aussies and China. We have eleven friendly games before the competition”.
Why Cuba’s play level was so poor in the last edition of the Classic?
“I was not part of that coaching staff. I was member of the Commission as Technical Commissioner. It is hard. We had few friendly games of high level. We were not in good shape to face such a high-level baseball and the performance was obviously unsatisfactory.”
So it ended our talk with experienced manager Carlos Marti who suddenly returned to the field of Latinoamericano Stadium to check the second day of training of Cuban players.
Translated by Sergio A. Paneque Diaz / Cubasi Translation Staff