Late in the night of Monday, the Cuban Baseball Federation confirmed the hiring of Granma slugger Alfredo Despaigne by the Japanese club Chiba Lotte Marines, that plays in the Pacific League of Japanese professional baseball.
After going through an ordeal by the accusations of possessing a false passport for his trip to the Mexican League with the Piratas de Campeche, the Cuban now faces a new challenge in a much more demanding contest, where he must show all his quality for longer stay in the upcoming season.
“It’s a real honor for me to represent the colors of the Japanese team. I respect the Asian baseball in general and, in particular, of them, champions in the first and second World Classics “explained Despaigne to press officers of the Cuban Federation.
“I will contribute primarily with my batting, for the Chiba to be among the best teams in that strong league. I hope that my participation will satisfy the Japanese fans, “said the Cuban, who will be the seventh player of the island to play in Japan in the current season.
His mission in the Marines seems extremely important in the offensive paragraph, since the team is relegated to the fourth position of its circuit (36 victories and 45 defeats) 12 games away from the leader, largely for being next to last in runs per game (three, 91) and homers (54), aspects that may contribute to the Cuban if he smoothly accommodates to the dynamics of the Asian Baseball.
In that sense, the leaders franchise may help him and the Cuban delegation in the Land of the Rising Sun, which is not only active players, as the veteran Lourdes Gourriel also made the trip after closely evaluate the performance of his son Yulieski Gourriel (Yokohama DeNA BayStars) and Frederich Cepeda (Yomiuri Giants), the other two Cubans hired under the aegis of INDER.
Cepeda has experienced firsthand the fact of entering a baseball field just two days after his arrival in Japan, he did not start well and then his career has failed to recover without the possibility of a stay in the minors to adjust his swing mechanics according to the characteristics of the pitchers in the league.
Instead, Yulieski has batted well and day after day he stands as the star of the team, an idol in Yokohama, where they hope to keep him for the next season, which some experts consider it unlikely because other teams of higher level have shown interest in having his services.
In addition, four other Cubans are working in the strong Asian tournament, with the difference that these came from the big leagues of the United States, where they started their careers after leaving the country.
They are the Barbaro Canizares (Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks), Yunieski Betancourt (ORIX Buffaloes), Juan Miguel Miranda (Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters) and Leslie Anderson (Yomiuri Giants).
This season they have had mixed performances, as Cañizares and Betancourt have barely seen action, while Miranda has poor average of 236, but has scored 31 runs, 42 RBIs, 16 doubles and 10 home runs.
Meanwhile, Anderson has been the most consistent, although a considerable part of the season was lost to injury. He averaged 315, with 67 hits, 22 runs, 33 RBIs, nine doubles, one triple and nine homers, figures that place it as one of the offensive spark for the Giants.
The number of Cubans who undertake travel to the Japanese League could increase in the coming days, considering that in Havana there are executives of the ORIX Buffaloes, to which their counterparts in the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks will be added, presumably to take any of players discussed weeks ago.