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.