On June 24, baseball for the Central American and Caribbean games will begin, where Cuba will attend with a team made up of a large percentage of the players currently playing in the National Series.
Unlike other countries that have pre-selected their team for the event, as is the case of Nicaragua, Cuba will announce the team directly before before the event, although supposedly it will come from a pre-selection of 39 players that is a state secret, as most things are in Cuba.
Since they are in the middle of the Serie Nacional, Cuba will meet on June 19 to announce the team and three days later they will leave for the venue. The team will be revealed as close as possible to the event, although the roster is fully assembled at this minute, because the event asked for the team rosters earlier this month. But as usual Cuba will wait until the last moment to let its roster be known.
Cuba’s pitching coach Pedro Luis Lazo spoke to Cuban media earlier this week to give a little more clarity about the team’s pitching staff for the tournament. Cuba debuts on the 24th of June against Mexico, then will successively face Curacao, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua. The tournament structure will be round robin with the first and second place teams squaring of for the title, while the third and fourth place teams will face off for the bronze medal.
The pitching of Cuba for the Central American and Caribbean Games is a matter of concern, in what direction will the team head?
For me the pitching of the Cuban team is not a concern, I think it is quite good, not like the Classic, but I think that with what we have we can solve the problem. Cuban pitching has always been solid for these types of tournaments and I think that this time it will be not be any different. The pitchers we have on the team are the ideal ones for this type of tournament and will solve the problem, so I have no concern about our staff for the Central American Games.
Will some pitchers from the World Classic be on the staff ?
Yes, mainly those who are in Mexico and two that we have here who were also in the WBC. Four of these pitchers will more than likely be the starters for the team. We also have four or five other pitchers that can serve us in a dual functional roles for the tournament.
Do we have the talent on this roster to clearly define the starter, middle reliever and closer roles?
I think we are going to try to make it similar to the World Baseball Classic structure as per the defined roles. The starters will be expected to toss five or six innings, then the middle relievers will take over and finally the the closing pitchers will be expected to close the show.
How will the staff shape up for the tournament:starters, relievers, closers?
We are going to take 11 pitchers to El Salvador, we want four starters (two from each side of the plate), maybe a situational left-hander, two closers (eighth and ninth) and the rest of the staff will be long relievers.
You can give us a sneak peek by revealing the name of a few pitchers on your staff?
There are a few quality prospects floating around out there who are very talented and could make the team, but as of right now we are counting heavily on those who went to the WBC. I think those four or five who went to the Classic will be among the 11 pitchers on our roster, as for the rest we’ll see what happens.