By Adrian Romero (Café Fuerte)
HAVANA TIMES — The bleeding of Cuban baseball continued this past week with the announcement of the suspension of Villa Clara player Ramón Lunar after he was caught in an attempt to leave the country illegally.
The Villa Clara Provincial Baseball Commission informed of the disciplinary action against Lunar consisting of his separation for two years from any official activity of the sport.
Lunar, who turned 28 last April 1, was one of the pillars of the Villa Clara team since his debut in 2008, demonstrating both his offensive power, versatility and defense abilities.
His offensive numbers in the Cuban league are noteworthy.
In five seasons he compiled a .322 batting average, with 407 hits, 59 doubles, 52 home runs, and 243 RBIs. His lifetime slugging percentage is .505.
With the Cuban National Team
On several occasions he joined the national team shortlist and was chosen for Team Cuba that participated in the International Baseball Series in Cartagena, Colombia, last year. With Villa Clara, the national-champion in 2013- he played in the 2014 Caribbean Series in Margarita, Venezuela Isla.
Many scouts believe that Lunar has a realistic chance of making the Majors
In the recently concluded National Series 54, Lunar was part of the Pinar del Río team after his Villa Clara was eliminated. At the end of the season, he moved to Quemado de Guines, his hometown, in Sagua la Grande. The attempt of illegal departure would have occurred earlier this month, along the north coast.
A source close to the ballplayer told CaféFuerte Lunar was arrested and interviewed by Ministry of Interior (Interior Ministry) officials, but is now free.
“It is a suspension that will end up forcing him to make another escape effort, there’s no turning back and no one will stop him,” said the source, who asked not to be identified. “This has happened with other players here, they are caught escaping and then end up leaving one way or another.”
Another recent case that received disciplinary action like Lunar was that of Matanzas outfielder Guillermo Heredia, 24, who was suspended for four years in early January. Days later, Heredia managed to escape from the island heading to Mexico, where he has already obtained legal residence and is in process of being declared a free agent to access a Major League contract.
Lunar’s suspension was discussed in provincial media. “The news is very unfortunate when you consider that Ramón Lunar was one of the most loved, admired and respected players by the Villa Clara fans in recent times,” said sports commentator Norman Hernández Castro, of the provincial station CMHW, in Santa Clara.
Two other teammates of Lunar, pitchers Diosdany Castillo and Yasmani Hernández, ran a similar fate last summer. They were captured in an escape attempt and suspended from the Villa Clara roster. Weeks later they managed to escape to Mexico and the Dominican Republic, respectively, and are now in the process of joining Major League franchises.
The Villa Clara team has seen a significant decline in their performance over the last two seasons, hit by defections and others released for indiscipline. In the recently completed season, they were unable to make the eight teams that qualified for second half of play.
Editor’s Note: To date, there is no agreement between the Cuban Baseball Federation and Major League Baseball regarding the safe and orderly contracting of players.