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02/19/2006 Archived Entry: "VIVA BEISBOL Weekly (Mexican Pro Baseball News)"
MEXICO WBC ROSTER SET; NOMAR A NO-GO
Winter "Viva Awards" To Be Announced Next Week
Mexico’s team for the upcoming World Baseball Classic has been set, but one player is more notable for his absence than his inclusion. After announcing that he would play for the Mexicans next month, Nomar Garciaparra has backed out of his earlier commitment in order to concentrate on his duties with the Los Angeles Dodgers this season. In all fairness, Garciaparra, who is not Mexican by birth, is coming off an injury-plagued 2005 campaign with the Chicago Cubs and will be spending his time at spring training learning to play first base for a new team after performing his entire career at shortstop. However, his presence in Mexico’s lineup would have been a shot in the arm to a national baseball program battered by poor performances in last year’s pre-Olympic tournament in Arizona and this month’s Caribbean Series in Venezuela.
Not that Mexico will be sending a bunch of chopped liver to the WBC. Manager Francisco “Paquin” Estrada will have such pitchers as Rodrigo Lopez, Ricardo Rincon, Esteban Loaiza, Elmer Dessens and Oliver Lopez on the mound; while the everyday lineup will feature such big leaguers as team captain Vinny Castilla, Jorge Cantu, Geronimo Gil, Oscar Robles and Adrian Gonzalez.
While the United States is expected to sweep to victory in Pool B action early next month and South Africa (a country more noted for its cricket teams) is forecast to finish last among the four teams, Mexico and Canada could very well be facing off for the second and final berth from the pool in the next round when they play each other March 9 in Phoenix’s Chase Park. ESPN2 will broadcast the USA-Mexico game from Phoenix on March 7.
In all, 16 teams from all five continents will be playing in what will be the first true world series of baseball. The USA will be joined by Japan and Cuba as favorites to win the tournament, although the Dominican Republic and Venezuela will be darkhorses. The Mexicans are not considered top contenders, but there is enough talent coming north to make things interesting and advance to the second round.
Next week, we will announce the winners of our 2005-06 Winter “Viva Awards” from the recently-concluded Mexican Pacific League season. Not all the choices were easy ones, and there will no doubt be a surprise or two. It’s likely nobody expected Sharnol Adriana to be our Summer Viva MVP last year, but we try to select players on the basis of individual performance, not necessarily team success nor certainly prior reputation. Vivas are picked in six different categories: Most Valuable Player, Batter of the Year, Pitcher of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Manager of the Year, and Playoff MVP. Unlike the hype-filled ESPN Espy Awards, the Vivas will not be televised and Chris “Don’t Call Me Ethel” Berman will not be involved.
MEXICAN NATIONAL TEAM 2006 World Baseball Classic Roster
PITCHERS (17): Luis Ignacio Ayala, Rigo Beltran, Francisco Campos, David Cortes, Jorge De la Rosa, Elmer Dessens, Edgar Gonzalez, Esteban Loaiza, Rodrigo Lopez, Pablo Ortega, Roberto Ramirez, Dennys Reyes, Ricardo Rincon, Ismael Valdez, Oscar Villareal.
CATCHERS (3): Humberto Cota, Geronimo Gil, Miguel Ojeda.
INFIELDERS (9): Alfredo Amezaga, Jorge Cantu, Vinny Castilla, Juan Castro, Luis Alfonso Cruz, Erubiel Durazo, Benji Gil, Adrian Gonzalez, Oscar Robles.
OUTFIELDERS (4): Karim Garcia, Luis Alfonso Garcia, Luis Carlos Garcia, Mario Valenzuela.
MANAGER: Francisco "Paquin" Estrada
COACHES: Teddy Higuera, Juan Jose Pacho, Enrique "Che" Reyes, Armando Reynosa, Jose Tolentino, Fernando Valenzuela.
MAESTROS of MEXICO: Hector Torres, shortstop (1962-77)
Most major league baseball players were Little League stars in their youth, but Hector Torres was a national hero in Mexico long before he signed a pro contract with the San Francisco Giants in 1962. Torres was the star of the Monterrey team that won the Little League World Series at Williamsport, Pennsylvania in 1957 after beating LaMesa, California 4-0 in the title game, becoming the first foreign team to win the LL crown. The son of Salon de la Fama member Epitacio “La Mala” Torres (a longtime outfielder for the Monterrey Sultanes who hit .310 in 19 Liga seasons), Hector would not become the hitter Dad was, but instead parlayed an outstanding glove into a major league career that spanned from 1968 through 1977.
Hector Epitacio Torres Marroquin was born on September 16, 1945 in Monterrey following Epitacio’s seventh season with the Sultanes. Hector naturally grew up playing ball, and he was the 11-year-old shortstop of the ’57 LL champs, who repeated in 1958. Five years later, the Giants signed him to a contract and sent him to their minor league system. After playing in the minors for a few years and being included in a deal with the California Angels, Torres was traded to Houston in 1967 and ended up being the Astros’ starting shortstop as a rookie in 1968. Although he was a Topps Rookie All-Star that season despite hitting just .223, he lost his starting job to Denis Menke the following year and played sparingly before being traded to the Chicago Cubs after the 1970 season for another shortstop, Roger Metzger. Torres played just 31 games for Leo Durocher in 1971 (hitting .224), and continued his baseball odyssey by performing with Montreal in 1972 and Houston again in 1973 before landing with San Diego in 1974.
The 6’0” 175-pounder, who was also known as “Malita” (or “Little Mala”), spent three years in the Padres organization and enjoyed his best offensive big league season in 1974 by batting .259 while playing 112 games at shortstop, third base and second base. He wound up his major league career in 1977 with the expansion Toronto Blue Jays, hitting .241 over 91 games in his lone American League season.
After his playing days came to an end without ever actually playing in the Mexican League, Torres returned to Monterrey and eventually became manager of his father’s team, the Sultanes. In one of the more bizarre turns of events in the LMB last year, Torres parted ways with the Sultanes while the team occupied first place in the Northern Division. After Torres left, Monterrey stumbled in the second half and was a second round casualty in the Liga playoffs.
While he has not yet joined his father in the Salon de la Fama, Hector Torres is still highly regarded among Mexican baseball fans as a former childhood star who evolved into a good-fielding major league shortstop and successful Liga manager while developing a reputation as a class act on and off the field.
NEXT MAESTRO: Francisco Barrios, pitcher (1974-81)
VIVA BEISBOL TRIVIA QUIZ
LAST WEEK'S QUIZ ANSWER: The first Mexican-born player to be selected in the first round of baseball’s amateur draft was Romar Benjamin “Benji” Gil. Gil was the 19th selection of the 1991 draft. A native of Tijuana, Gil debuted with the Rangers as a 20-year-old in 1993 and has forged a pro career as a utility infielder. He played for the Angels’ World Series champions in 2002, and signed a contract with the Kansas City Royals for 2006 after hitting .221 in 56 games for Culiacan in the Mexican Pacific League this winter.
THIS WEEK'S QUIZ: Who were the first Mexican brothers to play in the major leagues? (Question courtesy of Dana Eisenga of El Paso, TX)
NOTE TO READERS
Viva Beisbol continues as the only English-language source of information on pro baseball in Mexico. The newsletter has reverted to a Sunday-only schedule for the upcoming Mexican League season, which will begin next month, although daily coverage of Mexico’s National Team during the World Baseball Classic in March will be provided.
The website at www.VivaBeisbol.Net is continuing to evolve as a source of reference material on Mexican baseball in the weeks ahead. We are planning on adding a team directory page listing addresses and other contact information for all 24 clubs in both the Liga and MexPac, and have also created separate pages featuring statistics for both leagues, as well a page with the full schedule of the World Baseball Classic.
The contributions of Carlos “The Latin Insider” Fragoso will now be featured on the front page of the website, as will Salon de la Fama member Tomas Morales’ “Tommy al Bat” column (which will be posted in English every Wednesday).
OTHER GOOD LINKS FOR INFO ON MEXICAN PRO BASEBALL:
www.baseballguru.com (Featuring Carlos Fragoso’s “Latin Insider” column and Viva Beisbol)
www.baseball-reference.com/bio/Mexico_born (Stats of all past and present Mexican big leaguers)
http://depelota.com (Covers Mexican pro baseball, including the independent leagues)
www.esto.com (One of Mexico’s top sports papers, and home to Tomas “Tommy al Bat” Morales)
www.hitazos.com.mx (Top columnists and prime coverage of Mexican baseball)
www.ligadelpacifico.com.mx (The official Mexican Pacific League website, with lots of great info)
www.lmb.com.mx (The official Mexican League website, and a good one)
www.minorleaguebaseball.com (Featuring Mexican League standings and statistics)
www.mlb.com (With good, informative stories on Mexican baseball from subscriber Jesse Sanchez)
www.oursportscentral.com (Great site for minor league sports, and Viva Beisbol’s original “home”)
www.planeta.com (Not a baseball site, but great stories on Mexican baseball by subscriber Jon Clark)
www.purobeisbol.com.mx (Coverage of the LMB and LMP, plus a good column by Fernando Ballasteros)
www.salondelafama.com (Official site of Mexico’s Hall of Fame, and a treasure trove of information)
www.worldbaseball.net (Australian site with info on baseball in many countries, including Viva Beisbol)
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FOR MORE INFO ON MEXICAN PRO BASEBALL,
VISIT OUR WEBSITE AT www.VivaBeisbol.net