Toronto Blue Jays news and notes for Tuesday, December 13th
“Baseball is more important than tourism… than sugar and food.”
Tonight (Tuesday) at 9:00 p.m. ET, MLB Network is scheduled to air a new episode of the MLB Network Presents series entitled “Cuba: Island of Baseball”.
From Tony Oliva, and Luis Tiant to Livan Hernandez, Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez and modern stars like Jose Abreu and Aroldis Chapman, the documentary examines the long and complicated history between Cuba and Major League Baseball. This includes the American embargo, Fidel Castro, a 20-year period where no Cuban debuted in the MLB, and a future that now holds hope for much better relations.
Through the Blue Jays lens, this is particularly relevant given the recent signing of Lourdes Gurriel Jr., who along with his brother Yulieski is part of one of Cuba’s most beloved and famous baseball families.
“Nobody would ever imagine the Gurriel brothers would leave Cuba,” says Jesse Sanchez in the documentary, who added that Yulieski was believed to have such close ties to Castro’s government that he would never leave the island. “When Yulieski Gurriel left Cuba… that was the green light.”
Kendrys Morales, who signed a three-year, $33 million deal with the Blue Jays this off-season successfully left Cuba on a raft in 2004. It was his 12th attempt at leaving the island, some of which had resulted in him being jailed.
More from Toronto Blue Jays News
- Blue Jays: Bradley Zimmer has carved himself a valuable role
- Anthony Bass has been the shutdown reliever the Blue Jays needed
- Blue Jays: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. open to a long-term contract
- Blue Jays: Snapping cold streaks at the right time
- Who Should the Blue Jays Extend First: Guerrero, Bichette or Manoah?
Cuban players are often incorrectly lumped in with Dominican, Venezuelan, or Puerto Rican players when considered in the bigger picture of Major League Baseball. What this helps to show, however, is the very unique struggles and limitations they face both on and off the field. If you have the time to tune in, it’s highly recommended.
Vladdy Jr.’s minor-league transition
Guerrero talks about how he and his roommates made the same meal almost every day for the first few weeks — La Bandera Dominicana — as some of the day-to-day tasks are often most challenging for teenage players coming to the U.S., especially while adapting to a new language and culture. Junior also talks about a very special moment he shared with his father earlier in the season.
Bautista and the Blue Jays, Pt. 1
Years and years ago, it seems — spring training 2016 — Jose Bautista was reportedly seeking more than five years and $150 million. Of course, after a down year and a soft market, he may not even touch one-third of that.
For BP Toronto, Matt Gwin takes a look at what would have happened if the Blue Jays listened to the many fans who, at the time, joined in unison to shout “Pay the man!”.
Toronto’s hesitation to be the “big” bidder on several free agents has frustrated some fans in this free agent period, but as Bautista’s situation shows, patience can pay off in a big way when used at the right time.
Bautista and the Blue Jays, Pt. 2
Jon Morosi offered his thoughts on the Blue Jays and Jose Bautista on Monday for MLB.com, which you can read here. Morosi lands at the conclusion that more and more people have begun to: As the options continue to fall around Bautista, a reunion is beginning to look oddly realistic.