5:06 PM, November 21, 2008
Former Cuban national team stars Yadel Marti and Yasser Gomez have been
dropped from their Cuban league teams and been banned from playing
baseball on the island for "committing a grave act of indiscipline,"
according to a terse one-sentence note in Friday's edition of Granma,
the Communist Party paper.
Close observers of Cuban baseball believe the two, who were kicked off
the Havana-based Industriales team just a week before the league's
season opener, were caught planning to defect. The length of the ban was
not announced but in the past, Cuban players caught planning a defection
were banned from ever playing in Cuba. As a result many of those players
-- including major league pitcher Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez -- wound
up defecting anyway. So there's a good chance Marti and Gomez will be
here for the start of spring training.
Marti, a 29-year-old right-hander, was named to the all-tournament team
in the inaugural World Baseball Classic in 2006 after pitching 12 2/3
scoreless innings in four appearances, helping Cuba to a second-place
finish. Gomez. a 28-year-old outfielder, hit .394 in Cuban league play
in 2007. He was a member of Cuba's silver-medal team in the 2000
Olympics but did make the WBC team. Neither player made the Cuban team
for last summer's Beijing Olympics.
Ironically, Friday's announcement came a day after Cuban all-star
infielder Dayan Viciedo, who defected last May, agreed to an $11-million
contract with the Chicago White Sox.
-- Kevin Baxter
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