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SIZZLES AS MEXICALI FIZZLES, MERE OUT AFTER 8 GAMES
One week into the Mexican Pacific
League season, the Obregon Yaquis and Mexicali Aguilas are off to
starts and one manager is already looking for a new job as a result.
The Obregon Yaquis shot out the gate
with eight consecutive wins before suffering their first defeat, a 7-3
loss to archrival Hermosillo last Friday. A three-run homer by veteran
Alfonso Cruz off Obregon starter Dallas Martinez keyed a four-run
the fifth inning that broke open a 1-1
game. Cruz added a single and double while scoring three times to
Hermosillo opener Ryan Verdugo, who gave up three runs in 5.1 innings
collect the win. Roberto Lopez belted a solo homer for the Yaquis.
Obregon vaulted to their hot start
behind strong pitching and a solid batting order. Through Friday's
Yaquis hurlers had appeared in at least one game without giving up a
the eight wins during the streak were spread among eight pitchers.
being tagged with Friday's loss, Martinez (a former Yankees farmhand)
shows a 0.90 ERA, with Cruz' longball the only earned run among five
has allowed in two starts.
The Yaquis offense has been led in
the early going by catcher Sebastian Valle and first sacker Lopez.
acquired from Mazatlan in the offseason, was batting .448 with two
six RBIs over eight games while Lopez had a .357 average to augment his
homers and seven ribbies. Outfielder Alonzo Harris' .306 average and
bases have been helpful to manager Sergio Gastelum's squad while fellow
gardener Tirso Ornelas was hitting an even .400 in limited appearances
At the other end of the spectrum,
the Mexicali Aguilas did a pratfall out the gate by losing their first
games of 2020-21, tying a record for the start of the season previously
by Obregon (1960-61) and Navojoa (2010-11) and it cost skipper Pedro
job. The 50-year-old Mere has been one of the most successful managers
the border over the past decade, winning Mexican League pennants in
Veracruz and 2017 with Tijuana. He took over the Aguilas last November
they finished ninth in the first half with a 13-19 record and brought
to a second-place finish in the second half to clinch a playoff berth.
However, Mere had to wait until June
before his return to El Nido for the current season was confirmed,
one of the last managers in the LMP verified for 2020-21 and hardly the
strongest vote of confidence. Last Thursday's 6-1 loss at home to
the final straw for Aguilas owner Dio Alberto Murillo, who has never
to pull the trigger on managers not meeting expectations (which is
all of them). Bobby Magallanes learned that lesson when he was canned
losing 10 of his first 11 games in 2007-08. So did Roberto Vizcarra,
Mexicali to the 2016-17 pennant (and took Jalisco to the title last
was fired the following season after the Eagles were 16-19 in the first
Vizcarra's replacement? Pedro Mere.
Bronswell Patrick was tabbed as
interim manager after Mere's firing. Patrick was brought in as pitching
last year after managing Hermosillo to a 37-31 record and second
points for 2018-19, a good enough showing for him to poll second in
the Year voting before he was replaced by Vinny Castilla one month
season ended. Patrick put together a journeyman resume that saw him
Milwaukee and San Francisco as well as Korea, Taiwan and Mexico over 18
before retiring in 2006 and going into coaching. The 50-year-old North
Carolinian has been around long enough to know that every managerial
Mexico is “interim” whether the team uses that tag or not.
Patrick got off to a good start
Friday night with a 4-3 win over the Sultanes. Mexicali was trailing
heading into the bottom of the seventh before exploding for four runs
Michael Choice launched a three-run roundtripper off Daniel Cruz.
reliever Saul Castellanos was awarded the win while Greg Mahle pitched
scoreless ninth for the save. The loss dropped Monterrey to 7-2 on the
and a second-place tie with Hermosillo one game behind Obregon.
While the Mex Pac season got
underway on time and in full swing, the situation regarding fans
games remains fluid. After giving the go-ahead allowing patrons to
occupy up to
40 percent of seating at Estadio Sonora on October 9, the Hermosillo
Naranjeros' board of directors said the state government reversed
week and notified the team that no fans will be allowed to attend home
until further notice. Meanwhile, in Mazatlan, mayor Luis Guillermo
said earlier this month that while the governor of Sinaloa had okayed
the stands for that state's four LMP teams, he hadn't. Benitez did
sign off on opening up seating for Venados games at Estadio Teodoro
(among other sporting events), he lowered the allowed capacity from 40
On a related note, Septima
Entrada's Irving Furlong reports the league office has instituted a
that allows teams to suit up as few as 14 players to avoid having to
game. Teams typically suit up 25 eligible players per contest. “This is
that we put in place this season,” says LMP president Omar Canizales.
policy was put into effect to address the possibility of several
players on a
single team testing positive for the Wuhan virus, as happened in
Culiacan during training camp. Teams are also being allowed to carry
players on their Reserve List in the event that Active List players are
required to be quarantined.
HOPING TO ADD OSUNA, VILLANUEVA
Although the defending Mexican
Pacific League champion Jalisco Charros were sitting in seventh place
winning three of their first nine games, there shouldn't be too much
Guadalajara about a collapse this season. After all, the Cowboys ARE
defending champions and (more to the point) it appears that
is on the way. Two players that manager Roberto Vizcarra is hoping will
the team are Houston Astros closer Roberto Osuna and Nippon Ham
infielder Christian Villanueva.
After posting an American
League-leading 38 saves for the 2019 American League champions and
in the World Series, Osuna was placed on the Injured List August 1
appearances this year with what the team termed “right elbow soreness.”
initial diagnosis recommended Tommy John surgery but those concerns
lessened to the point that Houston's front office has given the okay
25-year-old righthander to pitch in the Mex Pac this season for rehab
Osuna joined the Charros last
weekend in Los Mochis and is expected to pitch for the team next month.
“Expected” is the key word because while Osuna has said in the past
wants to play in the LMP (and even held press conferences to that
has never thrown a ball in winterball. He has two younger brothers in
Jalisco organization, however, and that may be enough to advance from
to pitching this time around. Just in case history repeats itself, MLB
hurler Sergio Romo (who HAS pitched for the Charros) says he plans to
team for the second half while fellow reliever Humberto Castellanos,
his big league debut with Houston this year, has joined the team.
Although Osuna's season with the
Astros ended when they were eliminated by Tampa Bay in the American
Championship Series, Villanueva is still playing in Japan. While the
are out of playoff contention for all intent and purposes, the
baseman is hoping his final two weeks with the Hokkaido team will rehab
ailing bat. After batting .223 with eight homers over 73 games for the
Giants last season, a change of teams and leagues did nothing to
as Villanueva has a .220 average and four homers to show for 50 games
Fighters. Villanueva's plan is to finish the season in Japan and take a
weeks off for rest before debuting with his hometown team (after
previous winterball seasons in Obregon) during the second half of their
Once he reports, Villanueva will
present Vizcarra with the sort of dilemma most managers hope for: Where
the onetime Mex Pac MVP? According to Puro Beisbol's Fernando
Ballesteros, Jalisco already has longtime star Agustin Murillo holding
third base, veteran Henry Urrurtia has been playing first and is
for the young season and no less than Mexico's most-feared slugger,
Amador, is the team's designated hitter., although the 38-year-old
off to a slow start (.230) while Amador (.269) is still adjusting after
off from playing. There's a possibility that Urrutia could return to
outfield, his normal position during a 13-year career that began with five seasons in Cuba, but the Charros
already have Dariel Alvarez, Carlos Figueroa and Julian Ornelas as
with Sergio Perez in reserve.
TOURNAMENT IN MEXICO CITY TO OPEN NEXT MONTH
At a press conference held in Mexico
City last Thursday, the Mexico City Diablos Rojos announced that they'd
a tournament consisting of four teams with players drawn from both the
organization and their Mexican League sister team Oaxaca Guerreros.
franchises are owned by billionaire Alfredo Harp Helu, whose namesake
in the capital city will host all games.
The Copa Juntos por Mexico
(Together for Mexico Cup) will be played Tuesdays, Wednesday and
five weeks, with the regular season opening Tuesday, November 10 and
Thursday, December 10. It appears teams will play doubleheaders of
games for four games per day, but the schedule was only defined as 56
nine-inning consolation game for third place between teams finishing
fourth will take place Friday, December 11 while a nine-inning title
involving the top two seeds will be held one day later.
Games will be played daily on
Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, with afternoon tilts slated for 1PM
nightcaps beginning at 7PM. The four teams will be comprised mostly by
prospects, several of whom have already been signed by major league
organizations out of the Alfredo Harp Helu Academy in Oaxaca.
Among team representatives at the
press conference were Diablos vice president Miguel Ojeda, a former MLB
and onetime Mexico City manager, and Guerreros sports manager Jaime
played second base on Opening Night of the 2019 season for Oaxaca
officially retiring after appearing in 21 seasons for that club.
Ojeda told the gathering, “I had to
create four teams made up of the 106 players that we have on our
including players who have already signed with Major League Baseball
organizations. The Diablos will have 56 players divided into two teams
Jose Luis Sandoval and Daniel Fernandez, two historical players who
will be the
managers of those nines.” Oaxaca will be represented by the remaining
players on teams named after Alfredo Ortiz and the late Nelson Barrera.
Managers for those two teams were not announced.
Among the prospects who'll be representing
Mexico City in the tournament are Javier Sánchez (Royals), Oliver
Jays), Brandon Valenzuela (Padres), Carlos Pacheco (Cubs), Hansen López
(Athletics), José Ignacio Rodríguez and Hendrick Briones (Dodgers) and
Alfaro (Mets).Oaxaca will send MLB signees Yamir Leal and Oscar
(Royals), Cristian Pacheco (Padres) and Edgar Zuniga (Phillies).
While games will be played in bubble conditions with no fans in the stands, watching them shouldn't be a problem. All games will be broadcast live on TVC Deportes and streamed online on MediaTiempo.com plus social media channels (Facebook, YouTube and Instagram) for both the Diablos and Guerreros.