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B a s e b a l l M e x i c o
December 1, 2 0 1 7
LMB Assembly of Presidents adjusts 2018 schedules
The Mexican League Assembly of Presidents convened a meeting last month at LMB offices in Mexico City and made some adjustments in their upcoming two-season calendar for 2018. The most notable event may be something that happened before the meeting started, when new league president Javier Salinas confiscated cell phones from all 16 team representatives on hand in an attempt to eliminate leaks of the discussion to the media, in particular the Puro Beisbol website (which has posted LMB information in the past that did not go over well at Liga HQ). Salinas reportedly told the team owners and presidents on hand that phones would be taken prior to the next Assembly meeting later this month at the Baseball Winter Meetings in Orlando.
The projected schedules were pushed back to earlier in the year, in part to avoid playing the 2018 All-Star Game on the originally-planned date of July 1, which coincides with Mexico's presidential election and the declaration of a national holiday during which events like baseball games are prohibited. The LMB's version of an Apertura will commence with a March 15 Opening Day (originally slated on March 23), the All-Star Game will now be played between seasons on June 24 while the Clausura playoffs will conclude by no later than October 8, one week earlier than the previous October 15 end date and providing more of a cushion between LMB seasons and the Mexican Pacific League schedule.
Among other changes in the Mexican League structure were the allowance of foreign players to perform for up to three different teams per season (the previous limit was two teams), jerseys will be required to have the wearer's surname printed on the back, and attempts to speed up game will include automatic bases-on-balls and the installation of pitch clocks on outfield walls. Minor League Baseball tried using pitch clocks this summer but games still averaged a record 3 hours, 5 minutes.
Japhet Amador returning to Japan in 2018
Jalisco Charros slugger Japhet Amador will be returning to Japan for a third season in 2018 for a reported US$539,000.
The 6'4" designated hitter/first baseman (who runs from 305 to 330 pounds, depending on the source) suffered an injury-plagued 2016 Nippon Professional Baseball debut campaign (.258/9/19 in 39 games) with the Rakuten Golden Eagles. El Gigante de Mulege came back healthier for Rakuten this summer and broke Karim Garcia's record for most homers by a Mexican in NPB with 23 roundtrippers and driving in 65 runs in 121 games. His .237 batting average in 2017 was not a selling point for his contract renewal, but power hitters are forgiven lower averages and Amador has become a fan favorite in Sendai, home of the Eagles. Rakuten is a Japanese internet shopping company similar to Amazon and Alibaba.
Before heading to Asia, Amador had established himself as the most-feared batter in Mexico, following a 2015 Mexican League MVP season (.346/41/117) in 101 games with the Mexico City Diablos Rojos with a strong winterball campaign for the Charros in 2015-16 (.288/14/48) before heading off to Japan after 58 regular season games. He was named the MexPac MVP that season, too. Amador, who turns 31 in January, showed .270/7/20 numbers over 44 games last winter in Guadalajara and is currently batting .239 with 3 homers in 19 contests for Jalisco after coming home from Japan last month.
Amador's return to NPB next season is the only certain one from among the 2017 Mexican contingent in Japan. Former Rangers and Royals pitcher Luis Mendoza split a rocky season between the Nippon Ham Fighters and Hanshin Tigers, going a combined 3-9 with a 4.17 ERA, but Luis Alfonso Cruz (whose 73 RBIs for the Chiba Lotte Marines is a record for Mexican-born NPB players) spent this summer playing minor league ball in both the Rakuten and Yomiuri Giants organizations, as did ex-Yankees infielder Ramiro Pena, who played in the Hiroshima Carp system.
Salon de la Fama member Miguel Suarez dies at 65
Former Mexican baseball star Miguel Suarez has passed away in his native Guasave, suffering from circulation problems in the days before his death last month at the age of 65.
The following is a profile on Suarez that was initially posted on BBM's predecessor, Viva Beisbol, as part of a "Maestros of Mexico" series of sketches on past Mexican baseball greats:FOR MORE BASEBALL NEWS FROM MEXICO, VISIT www.BaseballMexico.com