By Reynaldo Cruz Diaz
Since 2015, Holguín’s shortstop Yordan Manduley has played for the Capoitales de Québec in the Can-Am League, boasting a .313 batting average, and the 2018 hitting crown, hitting .337. At 35, and with an excellent offensive performance for the Cachorros this season–primarily as a DH due to an injury–”El Mandu”, as he is known by some Holguín fans, could be right now without an international contract.
Despite having captured the interest of the Saraperos de Saltillo, along with Santiago de Cuba outfielder Yoelquis Guibert, a recent article published in Vanguardia MX revealed that both National Series players were “momentarily discarded”.
In a press conference held after Holguín’s sweep over Industriales, Nelson Rodríguez, Juventud Rebelde’s correspondent in the north eastern province, asked the player about this issue.
“We were in the paperwork of the contract in Mexico with the Saraperos de Saltillo,” said Manduley. “In the tour we had in the West, Aragón, who works in the Cuban Baseball Federation, called me and said it had been interrupted. I spoke to him, saying that it was informal, because I had canceled my contract in Canada, for I was headed to Mexico. Then, he said that he had spoken to them and told them that this was something serious: they suspended the contract.”
Then, he added: “They say there is a team in Mexico that plays in part of the United States, and that Cuba, or they (the club) could not guarantee the visa for me to be able to cross the border. I think that… I don’t know. Those were the answers they gave me, but I don’t understand them. The thing is, I have been five years playing in Canada and out of the six teams, three play in Canada and three in the States. I had to be going across the border on a weekly basis. I don’t know what the problem was very well, but that’s what they told me. I am not clear if it was the team, they were the ones who said they didn’t want me anymore, or if something happened in Havana.”
Then, he detailed: “They say it is because of a team, the Laredo team, that belongs to the United States, and sometimes you have to cross the border to play against them.”
The team Tecolotes de los Dos Laredos (initially Tecolotes de Nuevo Laredo), was transferred to Tijuana, where they took the name of the Potros de Tijuana, in 2004. However, they returned to Nuevo Laredo in 2008 and were sold and moved to Ciudad del Carmen. After the 2017 campaign, the Rojos del Águila de Veracruz relocated to the city and took the name of Tecolotes de los Dos Laredos. Then, they started playing half of their home games north of Río Grande, in the city of Laredo, Texas, the following year.
Besides, and according to Vanguardia MX in the very same article, the Saraperos were going to have some preseason games in San Antonio Texas, against the Acereros de Monclova, another city close to the border. That, taking into account the large wave of Cubans crossing the Mexico-US border (over 9,000 in January and over 16,000 in february), could have concerned the team’s board and made them discard both players.
About his possibilities of recovering his contract with the Capitales de Québec, the shortstop stated:
“The team of the Can-Am League has always been interested in me. But the team rosters are made a lot of time in advance. When I told them I was going to Mexico, they had to make their roster. Now that they don’t want me in Mexico, we have to see. Aragón said he was going to try to talk to people there to see if something can be done. But if the roster has already been made, it is very difficult.”
Obviously, the political situation between Cuba and the United States has its negative effect beyond borders once again. It is evident that the Saraperos de Saltillo would not want to miss the services of two of their players–who were both aiming to play as starters–for preseason games or when they had to face the Tecolotes in Laredo.
On another note, a Cuban ballplayer is again poorly represented by the Cuban Baseball Federation, because they didn’t do their homework, as was the case with Frederich Cepeda and his contract with the Yomiuri Giants. It is THEIR job to know all the intricacies of the league where the players, whose interests they are supposed to protect above all, are going to be playing. The fact that the Tecolotes played half their home games in Texas should not have taken them by surprise.
Moreover, they should have investigated whether the club would make US visa arrangements if need be, something that apparently the Capitales de Québec were very clear about. We can not forget that traveling to the United States from Canada is not the same as doing it from Mexico.
We hope a solution is found, because it would be very hard for the player to lose his possibility of playing professionally and making some money. However, this case continues to compromise the credibility and capacity of the Cuban baseball management. This case, above all, has all the signs of irresponsibility and ineptitude.