Cuban team adding some clout

More star power expected for Camden Yards rematch

April 27, 1999|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,SUN STAFF

The Cuban All-Star team that is scheduled to travel to Baltimore next week for the second half of the historic two-game goodwill series against the Orioles should look much like the team that nearly pulled an international upset at Havana's Latin American Stadium, with some notable additions.

The team that held out for 11 innings before suffering a 3-2 loss to the Orioles on March 28 did not have any players from the two best teams in the Cuban league, because the Havana Industriales and the eventual league champions from Santiago de Cuba were still involved in the league's championship series.

That probably won't be the case when the Cuban team visits Camden Yards next Monday. The Cuban government yesterday released the master list of 48 players eligible for the game, which included all of the players who participated in the first game and many of the best players from Havana and Santiago.

From that list, which was released through the state-run Communist Party workers newspaper known as Trabajadores, sports authorities will select a 25-man roster to travel to Baltimore along with a large Cuban contingent of sports officials, retired Cuban players and youth athletes.

Cuban officials indicated that they are withholding the makeup of the final roster for strategic reasons relating to other upcoming international competitions, but it could be part of a larger strategy to discourage players from any pre-arranged attempt to defect while the team is in the United States.

Each of the last two times that a Cuban national team visited here, a player walked away and eventually signed with a major-league club. Rolando Arrojo is now a successful pitcher with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, and pitcher Osvaldo Fernandez is with the San Francisco Giants.

That doesn't necessarily mean that the Cuban government will keep any of the country's marquee players at home, but it is possible that the final roster will not be announced until the team heads for Baltimore on Sunday.

Third baseman Omar Linares -- generally considered the best player in Cuba -- and highly regarded second baseman Antonio Pacheco are on the list, along with pitcher Jose Ariel Contreras, who dominated the Orioles in the first game.

The game is expected to be a sellout, though a small number of tickets remain on sale from the allotment of 4,000 that were offered to the general public through Ticketmaster on Saturday.

Orioles vice chairman Joe Foss said that about 1,000 remained as of late yesterday, including approximately 150 pairs and 700 singles.

The first 35,000 tickets went to season-ticket holders by mail order and another 8,000 were sold at a discount to the city for distribution to community groups.

"Those tickets went to schools, Little League organizations and police athletic leagues," Foss said. "There also were 1,000 distributed in the Hispanic community and through the Office of the Aging."

Some of those tickets also went to the youth baseball players who traveled from the Baltimore/Washington area to Havana as part of the goodwill exchange in March.

The rest were sold publicly, with a limit of two per customer. Orioles officials indicated that the limit was imposed to make tickets available to the greatest possible number of fans, but it also served to reduce the possibility of a large block of tickets going to a group planning to protest inside the stadium.

It is no secret that club officials would like to avoid any incidents that would detract from the game, but Foss said yesterday that the team would respect the right of any group to protest peacefully outside the stadium.

"We have every intention of standing behind the principles that this country was founded on," he said. "I expect that there will be people vocalizing their differences of opinion. But if somebody is conducting an activity that would ruin somebody else's enjoyment of the game, we are not going to allow that."

Cuba's roster

This is the list of 48 Cuban players who are under consideration for next Monday's game against the Orioles at Camden Yards. Cuban sports authorities will select the final 25-man traveling squad later this week.

Catchers: Juan Manrique, Ariel Pestano, Roger Machado, Rolando Merino, Ivan Correa.

Infielders: Orestes Kindelan, Michel Abreu, Loidel Chapelli, Antonio Scull, Antonio Pacheco, Enrique Diaz, Juan Padilla, Oscar Macias, Yobal Duenas, Omar Linares, Andy Morales, Michel Enriquez, Eduardo Cardenas, Gabriel Pierre, Juan Carlos Moreno, German Mesa, Daniel Castro.

Outfielders: Luis Ulacia, Roberquis Videaux, Jose A. Estrada, Ariel Benavides, Oscar Machado, Javier Mendez, Reutilio Hurtado, Daniel Lazo, Ariel Cutino, Eddy Rojas.

Pitchers: Maels Rodriguez, Ciro Silvino Licea, Yosvani Aragon, Jose Ariel Contreras, Lazaro Garro, Jose Ibar, Norge Luis Vera, Carlos Yanes, Ernesto Guevara Ramos, Alexis Rodriguez, Ormari Romero, Jorge Luis Machado, Adrian Hernandez, Yoide Castillo, Maique Quintero, Pedro Luis Lazo.

Pub Date: 4/27/99

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