Yuli Gurriel was the main attraction of the historic Cuban team that was runner-up in the first World Baseball Classic. The infielder from Sancti Spiritus, Cuba has been a player throughout his sports career who has been a polarizing figure and his emergence in MLB confirmed that he was always he who we thought he was, a future major league star. In an interview with Backstage Deportivo, from La Familia Cubana, Yuli answers one of the most interesting questions that has always left fans pondering, in order to settle all doubts.
Why didn’t you leave the Cuban delegation in the first WBC, when you were the most coveted prospect of the tournament? “At that time, I was not even remotely thinking of defecting from the national team, even in those times it was still a little more difficult, in the sense that it was difficult to go out during a major tournaments and there was pressure, especially with the young players who they knew had the possibilities to stay”. Yulieski adds in this regard: “I remember in this from the first day of that tournament , because I have always liked to play video games, they put all the teams in the San Juan hotel. They specifically put us in some corner bungalows, as they always do to keep us separated from the people.
Well, we discovered the games room, and I was there before the tournament, but after the first game against Panama in which I looked good and began to be the subject of conversation for the press. They began to praise me and talk about my talent, after that I was no longer allowed to visit the game room, they stopped me in an instance as I headed there after that game and said: “Where are you going?” I told them that I was on my way to the arcade, continues the stellar Cuban infielder, furthermore, “ball players are superstitious, if the day before I had played there and we had won, I wanted to do it again. They told me no, they (the press) had already talked a lot about what had happened the day before in San Juan, and I told them that no one would stop me, that I would go play. So they told me to wait, they went, looked for the console, the controls, everything, and they brought it to my room. I don’t know how they managed it but they brought and left it there for me.”
“Later, in San Diego, the agents of Major League Baseball players came and praised me, they asked me if I had never dreamed of playing in MLB, and I, oblivious to everything, told them that we couldn’t. My way of thinking then and my inexperience was what prevented me from leaving”, he explains.
Finally, Yuli Gurriel assures that he does not feel sorry for having made that decision: “I say that God’s timing is perfect and maybe I would have left during that period and my career would not have been good, or maybe much better, because one always wants to prove oneself in this baseball being at the prime of their career, which in my opinion is from the ages of 21 to 26 years of age, but perhaps if I had taken that step my brother would not have been able to come, in short, I feel happy that things have happened as they did”.
Taken from All in 1 Deportes