Jesus Balaguer: “I would like to play with my brother in Cuba, but now is not the time”

Jesús Balaguer has only been with the Rieleros de Aguascalientes for a week and already he has two victories as a relief pitcher. Balaguer was released earlier this season by the Sultanes de Monterrey after two appearances, two defeats and a 36.00 earned run average.

Last season the Cuban right-hander and ex-Astros prospect had an immaculate season with the Gastonia Honey Hunters of the Atlantic League. In 57 games the flamethrowing righty had an ERA of 3.36 and saved 25 games to lead the independent circuit

In Cuba’s Serie Nacional he pitched with the Cazadores de Artemisa and Industriales. Balaguer made his debut at the age of 18 in 2012 and in three seasons in the league he posted a 6-3 record with a 3.60 ERA and one save.

You had two outings with the Sultanes de Monterrey in which you didn’t do well and they released you. Do you think that you were given an ample opportunity to adjust to a new league?

I don’t think I was given enough time to showcase my talents and make the proper adjustments. In the preseason I had some very good outings and unfortunately things simply did not work out in those two outings. I had good velocity and command, just some balls found the holes in the defense …. that’s baseball. This is a business and they made their decision based on my performance, but I had they had given me ample opportunity to adjust I would have done well, because that is what I prepared for this winter.

You were inactive for almost a month. How does a pitcher stay in shape during that period of inactivity?

You have to stay in the gym, training, running, preparing in general. You can’t stop training because a pitcher needs that rhythm. I was always focused and preparing myself for right the opportunity.

You recently signed with the Rieleros and in your first outing you got the victory. Tell us about that experience.

First of all glory to God for that. It was something very nice because it was my first outing with a new team and I helped them win, the team also needed thar boost it since it was coming out of a losing streak. I just did my bit and my teammates did the rest.

Last year you were in the Atlantic League and had 25 saves. What difference is there between baseball in Mexico and that of the independent leagues in the United States?

Both are good leagues, leagues where there is a lot of competition and a lot of quality players. In Mexico the ball carries a lot and the hitters are very aggressive, they are always hacking. In general it is a very offensive league. You have to make the necessary adjustments to succeed in this league.

At some point in your career, would you like to play in Cuba again?

Yes, I want to play with my brother in the Serie Nacional, but right now I have no interest in returning to play for Cuba in any aspect. It just isn’t the right time.

Now that you had a second chance with the Rieleros, what personal goals does Jesús Balaguer have for this year?

First of all, I want to establish myself in Mexican baseball with the Rieleros, who until now have trusted me and have given me a second opportunity. I also want to use this league to prepare myself for winter baseball in the Caribbean.

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