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Baseball Mexico

by Bruce Baskin
June 15, 2020 - Mexican League (ML)

CITY OF MAZATLAN OKAYS 2021 SERIE DEL CARIBE

Several weeks after evicting the Mazatlan Venados from Estadio Teodoro Mariscal for violations of their lease, the City of Mazatlan has announced that the Mexican Pacific League team will be allowed to use the ballpark for the upcoming 2020-21 season, including hosting the 2021 Caribbean Series in early February.

The City physically escorted Venados front office employees out the stadium in early April, locking the facility up after it had been cleared out. The government claims the team had violated a number of conditions of their ballpark lease, including sponsorship of local basketball players and boxers and delivering Venados game tickets to senior citizens. The team was also asked to let the City use the ballpark to deliver services to seniors in relation to the Wuhan Virus outbreak, but refused the request.

The imbroglio led to concerns that the Caribbean Series would be moved out of Mazatlan if things were not resolved soon, with the Pan American Baseball Confederation (COPABE) giving the Mex Pac until the end of this month to broker a truce between the warring sides.

On Saturday, the Mazatlan City Council released this (translated) statement promising cooperation in allowing the Venados to return for the LMP season and that the Caribbean Series, which brings tourism money to host cities, may go ahead as planned:

The Municipal Government and Mayor Luis Benitez Torres express their commitment to guarantee all the facilities and the granting of permits for the 2020-2021 season of the Mexican Pacific League and the Caribbean Series 2021 at Estadio Teodoro Mariscal.

The City Council and the Mayor know the importance of sports culture and the economic and tourist impact that both baseball tournaments represent for the Mazatlan fans and for the municipality itself.

For this reason, this Government is open to communication with the company "Espectaculos Costa del Pacifico" and with the Caribbean Professional Baseball Confederation to reach agreements for the holding of the two sporting events here in Mazatlán.

The Municipal President expresses our will to grant the right to use, enjoy and enjoy the facilities of Estadio Teodoro Mariscal as well as any authorization for local activities, thereby guaranteeing that there is no impediment to holding such tournaments.

These measures are considered convenient for the benefit of society between the exploitation of a property in the public domain and the social, sports and tourist benefit of Mazatlecos.

Although the statement appears to give the go-ahead for business as usual at the ballpark, it's also notable for what it DOESN'T say. There is no mention of resumption of the lease between the Venados and the City, nor is anything said about a contract pulled by the City from team owner Jose Antonio Toledo that has allowed his family control of ballpark concessions since 1980 before purchasing the team 25 years later. While there does seem to be a truce, it promises to be an uneasy one.

Relations between the Venados and Mazatlan leaders soured quickly after Estadio Teodoro Mariscal reopened in October 2018 following a US$18 million renovation, when drinking water to the facility was shut off in the wake of a discovery that the team had created a clandestine drinking system there.

TOROS PLAN TO RE-OPEN CAMP JULY 15 IN OAXACA

With an August 7 date tentatively set for finally beginning the 2020 Mexican League season, the Tijuana Toros were planning to re-open their training camp on July 15 in the southern state of Oaxaca. The Toros were training in Tempe, Arizona in mid-March when the LMB office ordered all 16 teams to close their camps and put the regular season on hold after the Wuhan virus appeared in Mexico and started claiming lives. As of last weekend, the number of confirmed cases of the Wuhan virus topped 139,000 nationwide, with over 16,000 deaths attributed to it (over 4,000 of them in Mexico City alone).

Toros sports director Oscar Romero, a former LMB pitcher whose son (Oscar Junior) is an 18-year-old third baseman in the Tijuana organization, said that Oaxaca was the most logical place for the team to spend three weeks prepping for the delayed season.

"This is more or less how the panorama is and all the teams are making the maximum effort so that we have the season with the necessary protocols," the elder Romero was quoted as saying on the El Fildeo website. "Our number one option is to train in the city of Oaxaca and it's for several reasons. The first is that they have the proper facilities there to do a good workout."

Besides being home to the Guerreros of the LMB, Oaxaca is also the site of a baseball academy owned and operated by Alfredo Harp Helu, who owns both the Guerreros and Mexico City Diablos Rojos. All three teams are expected to use the facility for training and warmup games until the regular season opens.

Tijuana is considered one of the preseason favorites to win the LMB North Division championship and a contender for copping the Serie de Rey. First-year manager Omar Vizquel will field a veteran outfit including everyday players like first baseman Ricky Alvarez, second baseman Isaac Rodriguez and outfielder Jesus "Cacao" Valdez with catching tandem Xorge Carrillo and Gabriel Gutierrez receiving pitches from Yoanys Quiala, Manny Barreda, James Russell and closer Jake Sanchez.

Vizquel takes the reins in Tijuana from Oscar Robles, who managed the Toros to a 75-45 record in 2019 to tie Monclova for the LMB's best regular season record before falling to the Acereros in the LMB North Championship Series in seven games. Monclova went on to win their first pennant by beating Yucatan in the Serie del Rey. After a playing career likely to land him in Cooperstown as a sweet-fielding shortstop and timely batter, Vizquel managed two seasons in the Chicago White Sox system before parting ways with the Chisox after serving as dugout boss in AA Birmingham last year and is no doubt aware that Tijuana ownership will likely not accept anything short of the city's first pennant since 2017.

Meanwhile, Romero allows that the August 7 target for inaugural Liga games is a tentative one. "The first days of July are contemplated approximately to define whether or not there will be a 2020 season," he told El Fildeo, "and all this is conditioned on improving the difficult situation that we are going through with this pandemic."

KBO HOMER LEADER RAMOS SHELVED WITH ANKLE, BACK PAIN

Hermosillo native Roberto Ramos' sensational debut season in the Korea Baseball Organization has been placed on hold after the LG Twins slugger was placed on the injured list last week with ankle and back problems. Ramos had played both games of a doubleheader on Thursday before the decision was made to sit him down for at least a three-game home series last weekend with the Busan Lotte Giants.

At the time he was shelved by the Seoul-based team last Friday, Ramos was leading the KBO with 13 homers while sitting in third place in both batting average (.391) and runs batted in (31). His .777 slugging percentage and 1.226 on-base plus slugging percentage both ranked second as Ramos was a prime reason the Twins were tied for second with the defending champion Doosan Bears in the standings at 21-12, four games behind the 25-8 NC Dinos.

"He had some discomfort in his right ankle after the double header, and he woke up this morning with a sore back," Twins manager Ryu Jong-Il said about Ramos in his pregame media availability Friday. "He took an injection in his back. We'll see how his recovery goes, but it looks like he won't be available this weekend." In Ramos' absence, the Twins called up first baseman Kim Ho-Eun from the minors. A 2016 sixth round draft pick, Kim made his KBO debut over the weekend.

The KBO has instituted a new procedure for injuries in 2020. Previously, whenever the league removed a player from their active roster due to an injury, they were required to sit for at least ten days before being reactivated. Now, there is no minimum number of days to remain out of the lineup, theoretically allowing a player placed on the IL on Friday night to sit one one game on Saturday before returning to the lineup Sunday afternoon.

Born in Hermosillo, the 25-year-old Ramos was a 2014 draft pick of the Colorado Rockies out of College of the Canyons in California. He spent six years in the Rockies farm system, socking 98 homers and batting .292 (including 30 longballs and 105 RBIs with a .309 average last season for AAA Albuquerque in the Pacific Coast League). Ramos signed a one-year free agent contract with the Twins in the offseason for $400,000 with a $50,000 signing bonus.

Ramos has played parts of six winterball seasons with his hometown Hermosillo Naranjeros, but without the same level of success that he's seen during the summer. Over


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Mexican League Stories from June 15, 2020


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