Brayan Peña: “We have a commitment, because of what it represents for our people, the Cuban people.”

Brayan Peña was chosen by Orlando “El Duque” Hernández to be the manager of the Cuban Professional Baseball Federation (FEPCUBE) team that will participate in the Intercontinental Series. A tournament that will be played in Barranquilla, Colombia, between January 25 and 1 February 2024, news that the former Major League player took as an omen, despite being a great responsibility, it will be something historic.

The Cuban, who is currently the manager of the West Michigan Whitcaps, a Class A team for the Detroit Tigers understands the responsibility of being the first leader of a historic team that will represent Cuban players not affiliated with the Cuban Baseball Federation. At 41 years old, he does not hesitate to affirm that his work leading the FEPCUBE team will be the greatest thing in his career. The experience he accumulated during 12 seasons in the majors allowed him to harnest the tools to go from behind the plate to the dugout, to the point to be a manager right now in the Major League farm system.

Cuban journalist of El Nuevo Herald, Jorge Ebro, has been closely following the plight the FEPCUBE, who will have their first opportunity to show themselves to the world in the Intercontinental Series. He recently spoke with Brayan Peña about the topic at hand.

When you were hired as manager, what did you feel?
I told “El Duque” that I owed him some croquettes. No really, all jokes aise I am super grateful, very proud to be a member of a federation as important as ours and to have a leader like Orlando Hernández. We have a good friendship. We have learned “to understand each other and that is why we will succeed. I am very happy with what we are representing with this project.

They say that the response from the players has been very good.

I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but the response from the boys has been very positive. We had no doubt that we were going to receive their undivided attention. Now we just have to wait for the right moment and just continue working for what we are striving to do, which is our best.

What tells you that this project is going to work?

We have the right leaders in place, whom we trust and also understand that they put the players first and themselves second. That makes a big difference. It’s not about me, or Orlando. It’s about all of us. That has given a lot of motivation and has led to luring players to join in. We are working hard so that when we go out on the field we give our best.
How do you imagine this team on the field?

In my mind and my heart, Orlando and I are leading, while the players follow. But in reality it is a team effort. It is not about me working, but about everyone going in the same direction. We will always be available to our players and that’s the most important thing.

Do you talk to them?

Many have approached me, but I repeat that the most important thing is that we are all on the same page, as are the board and the coaches. We meet two and three times a week. We are constantly in contact. I tell you that many players want participate in the tournament, but it is much more than this. The FEPCUBE is going to be the home of our players, coaches, umpires and the press. We are all representing the Cuban Professional Baseball Federation.

You are a manager in the Tigers franchise, where do you place this project amongst the priorities in your career?

This is something special, something very big. This is number one. Not only because of what it represents for me personally, but because of what it represents for our people, the Cuban people. We have a commitment “with those Cubans who admire, support and respect us. We cannot let them down.”

What if you win in Colombia?

“El Duque” told me that I was going to move to his house to play dominoes every day. Having this opportunity is already a very big victory. We have already won. We have achieved something that had never been achieved. We are going to give everything to make this succeed.

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