Infielder Hector Olivera Leaves Cuba

Por Café Fuerte

El pelotero cubano Hector Olivera
El pelotero cubano Hector Olivera

HAVANA TIMES — Second baseman Hector Olivera Amaro, one of the stars of Cuban baseball today, has left the island illegally, following in the footsteps of fellow players who have become established in the Major and Minor Leagues abroad.

The 29-year-old Olivera belongs to a generation of baseball players who have shone both in the domestic league and international championships over the past decade. His efforts had earned him a place among Cuba’s top athletes in 2010.

Many of his contemporaries and former teammates on Cuba’s national team – such as Aroldis Chapman, Yoenis Cespedes, Alexei Ramirez and Jose Dariel Abreu, are today members of Major League teams under multi-million-dollar contracts.

Sources close to the player told Café Fuerte that Olivera left the country illegally this past weekend, presumably by sea, but did not specify his destination.

In an initial version of events, Hector Olivera, the player’s father, a talented batter for Cuba’s selection in the 1970s, had accompanied Hector Junior in his flight. However, according to fans that attended the Cienfuegos – Villa Clara game, said the father was at the Cienfuegos stadium on Monday.

Absent from the 2014-15 Opening Series

“What we know is that he left,” the source declared. “The Cuban Baseball Federation (FCB) knows this and it is being commented by sports journalists.”

According to the information obtained by Café Fuerte, Olivera did not participate in his team’s games against Guantanamo, held in Santiago de Cuba on Monday and Tuesday, when the 54th National Baseball Series kicked off. No official explanation as to the player’s absence in the lineup was offered, despite the fact that Olivera is one of the pillars of the team.

The sporting career of Olivera, one of Cuba’s major baseball prospects since his debut in the junior leagues, had been interrupted by recent injuries that kept him away from the field for long periods.

Olivera did not participate in the national series or international tournaments between 2012 and 2013 as a result of a thrombosis of the biceps of his left arm. During the last Cuban baseball season, he made a rather feeble appearance, playing second base and as designated batter, hitting for a .316 average with seven homeruns.

A Future Abroad

The prospect of Olivera’s return to Santiago de Cuba’s regular line-up this season had awakened great expectations among aficionados and baseball managers around the country.

But everything seems to indicate the player’s future will not be in Cuban tournaments.

As a batter, Olivera combines tact and power. He is also particularly skillful as a base runner.

He made his debut in the national series in 2004, at the age of 18, following a brilliant career in the junior leagues.

Olivera compiled a career average of .322, with 164 doubles, 81 home-runs and 414 runs batted in.

He was a member of Cuba’s teams that won silver medals at the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008 and the World Cup in 2009. He was also a member of the Cuban selection that participated at the 2nd World Classic in 2009.

At the 17th International Basebell Cup held in Taipei, China, in 2010, he was selected the tournament’s most valuable player, after securing a batting average of .593. That year, he was named one of the 10 Best Cuban Athletes.

11 thoughts on “Infielder Hector Olivera Leaves Cuba

  • the US doesnt allow Cuban players to provide funds to Cuban baseball. We have the trading with the enemies act.

  • Indeed… NHL and agreement with Russian hockey Federation negotiated about. 20 yrs ago

  • Once again…blinded…not understanding why and what I’d going on with Cuban baseball and MLB…..another over simplification on your part

  • No ethical person should respect the Cuban political system of repression.

    If the Cuban government reformed their political system, allowed free & democratic elections and respected the human rights of the Cuban people, then Cuban baseball players could join the MLB and return to Cuba to invest and develop their homeland. This would do far more to improve the lives of ordinary Cubans than the current system maintained by the Stalinist Castro regime.

    As a comparison, Dominican baseball players in the MLB have invested tens of millions of dollars in their home country, building schools, medical clinics, and baseball parks, as well as investing in new businesses which are helping to diversify the local economy.

  • Castro regime should respect the human being…. it is the state duty to provide as much as it take from taxes….. in Cuba taxes are 98% of the salary, so, the state has no right to treat people as its property.

  • canada has a different system. the state devotes time and resources to develop these players. in the US the colleges devote the same to develop football players and receive millions of dollars from fan attendance. mexico and japan respect the cuban system and so should the US.

  • I am not of the opinion that the Cuban people are the property of the Cuban government. The people should not be treated as slaves. Rather, the government should be a servant of the people.

    My son plays in the local Little league baseball club. No state involvement is necessary. When or if he is drafted, he will not have to ask the Canadian government for permission to go play in the MLB.

  • the cuban government devotes a great deal of effort in training baseball players and other athletes from an early age. we should respect their system and negotiate payment which the cuban government and players share. in the other countries the players are largely on their own with little or no state involvement. the biggest involvement are the baseball acadamies sponsored by individual MLB teams who reap the benefits.

  • US baseball teams don’t pay fees to the governments of Venezuela, Dominican Republic or any other country where talented baseball players come from. Why should the MLB pay Castro for the privilege of hiring Cuban ball players? The MLB hires Cuban ballplayers directly and pays them for their work. It is the Cuban government which is not playing fairly.

  • US should regularize baseball relations with Cuba as has been done by Mexico and Japan. Dont let the Miami Cubans continue to determine our policy.

  • Good luck to Hector, and let us pray he is safe. I hope to see him playing in the MLB very soon.

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