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Cuban baseball: All out for development, but not at all costs

base basllBaseball director addresses return of teams to the field for Cuba’s 60th National Series, and player eligibility for the season
• Since August 1, ballplayers have been back on the field. As stipulated in the sports movement’s post-epidemic action plan, teams participating in the 60th National Series, set to begin September 12, began training on that date.

Ernesto Reinoso, national baseball director, spoke with Granma, to discuss the return to stadiums and eligibility of ballplayers for the season, stating, “The return requires maximum responsibility from directors, coaches and ballplayers, in complying with guidelines for this stage of the post-COVID-19 recovery.”

He stated that the hygienic-sanitary conditions have been created, including “the cleaning of equipment and surfaces, in gyms and dugouts; the medical triads (doctor, psychologist and physiotherapist) have been given instructions and trained.”

Reinoso noted that, although teams were authorized to begin training August 1, Havana’s Industriales and Las Tunas were obliged to delay their plans due to maintenance issues, including drainage on fields.

“The fields were re-conditioned, along with cushioning on fences, while public areas were beautified and work done to improve the clay,” he said.

Although athletes and coaching staff developed training programs which players followed in their homes during the height of the epidemic, when they arrive at training camp, it will be necessary to evaluate their condition and readiness to confront the 75-game season. “Assembly of teams will begin on the 17th and on that date the teams from Guantanamo and Santiago de Cuba will be announced, although the final list of each team’s 34 players will be officially released at the 60th National Series Technical Congress, scheduled for the first days of September,” Reinoso stated.

As for the return of players with professional contracts in leagues abroad, suspended due to the pandemic, and how the National Directorate will consider requests to play in the National Series, Reinoso said: “First, the player must legally update his migratory status, according to the norms of our country, which some have already done, like Yadir Drake, from Matanzas, and Rubén Paz from Las Tunas. Secondly, the province, the level at which the request is made, decides whether to accept the request.” That is, a team may have conceived a strategy that does not include the player, no matter how professional he may be.

-If it he not accepted, can he play with another team?

-If he is willing, yes. In the last series, Cienfuegos native Erisbel Arruebarruena returned, but wearing a Matanzas uniform.

Some of them have contracts with winter leagues (the Pacific League in Mexico, to name one), so if they are included in the upcoming national competition, they would have to leave one or the other.

-Could they return for the Cuban post-season, when that other commitment ends in December?

-We are studying this and relevant regulations for our series will be established, because the first thing is that leagues must be respected. I don’t think there is one that would allow an athlete to play 20 or 30 games, leave to fulfill another obligation, and come back to play in the finals. These are issues that we value, since our baseball is not closed to any player, trained in our development structure, but based on a policy; we are going all out to improve our sports, but not at all costs.

(Source: Granma)

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