Cuba punishes 6 baseball players for exit attempts
HAVANA (AP) — Six more baseball players have been ruled out of the current national squad for trying to defect, Cuban authorities said Wednesday.
Government news website Cubadebate listed the players as Villa Clara pitchers Diosdani Castillo and Yasmani Hernandez Romero; infielders Gelkis Jimenez and Adriel Labrada; pitcher Carlos Manuel Portuondo of Santiago, and Isle of Youth outfielder Alejandro Jaime Ortiz.
Cubadebate said they were implicated in “attempts to leave the country illegally.” It did not give details or say whether any were successful.
Cubadebate also named Yasmani Tomas, a hard-hitting outfielder formerly with Havana ball club Industriales whose departure was acknowledged by officials on Friday.
Cuban ballplayers who defect often have their sights set on Major League Baseball, where many have signed multimillion-dollar contracts.
Last year Cuba began letting players compete in overseas leagues while still in their prime for the first time in decades. Some have signed lucrative deals in Japan.
The players named by Cubadebate will not figure in the squad selected to face a U.S. collegian team in five games next month in Cuba.