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Alfredo Despaigne Wants to Play in Toronto PanAmerican Games

Alfredo Despaigne Wants to Play in Toronto PanAmerican Games

Posted by Miguel Ernesto on March 23, 2015

Alfredo Despaigne seems to have totally left in the past his dark history related to the false passport he used to play in the Mexican League, back in 2014. After that incident, which entailed his being expelled from that competition, the best slugger of Cuban baseball was hired by Japanese Chiba Lotte Marines and he showed there his remarkable qualities. His performance was so convincing that the owners of the Japanese club extended his contract for two years and 4.1 million dollars, a figure that could go up depending on the results on the field.

30-year-old Despaigne has not stopped making history in Cuban baseball. He returned from Japan and he barely took a break. He said to be willing to support his team, Granma, during the 54th edition of the National Series and he did it. Despaigne played a leading role in the qualification of his team to the semifinals: he was the batting leader with average of 406 and featured the highest slugging, 762.

Right after the playoffs in Cuba, Despaigne will fly back to Japan so as to join Chiba. This year round he will be wearing his favorite number, 54, and he will be 4th in the lineup. Will Despaigne be able to play the whole season with the Marines? That’s what the Japanese executives want for sure, but Cuban authorities seem to have a different idea. The PanAmerican Games are scheduled to take place in Toronto, in July. Four years ago, Cuba lost the title it had held since 1967; therefore, the authorities of the Island are going to do everything it takes to recover the crown. Despaigne is a key element in the team, so he would have to leave Japan for nearly a month.

PanamericanWorld exclusively talked to Despaigne to learn his opinion on the high number of games played last year, his expectations with the return to Japan and the possibility to wear the Cuban uniform in Toronto PanAmerican Games.

What’s your physical condition after having participated, over the past twelve months, in both Mexican and Japanese Leagues, Cuba’s National Series and the Caribbean Series?

The national season has been fine, although I was kind of tired due to the different trainings I’ve gone through and times off, but I have successfully adapted. Granma team is in great shape, although we’ve had some problems with the pitch. We’re working hard and fighting to reach the final stage of the championship.

When are you going back to Chiba Lotte Marines, in Japan?

Right after the Cuban championship, I will have one week or 10 days of training, which is going to be a great opportunity to take a break. Afterward, in Japan, I will start from scratch and I’m looking forward to having similar results or better than last year.

What are your expectations for the upcoming season of the Japanese professional League?

I have big expectations. Both Cuban and Japanese fans want me to do my best. The possibility of being there since the very beginning and play more games with Chiba is going to give me the opportunity to prove my worth. Last year, I could only play for one month. I think that I can do it better with more games.

What did that first experience in Japan’s professional baseball mean to you?

It was very positive. First of all, it sharpened my skills as a baseball player, since got in touch with the Asian game style, the dynamic and demanding method they apply and I just tried to follow the indications and adapt to their game. I think that I didn’t do it that bad.

How did the club receive you?

I felt great. There were two Latin American players in the team – Dominican and Mexican – so I felt like home. The Japanese were very kind. I’m very grateful for their support.

The next Cuban baseball season kicks off in September, in an effort to stop its schedule from interfering in the main international events, so the players that have been hired by foreign teams can play in their leagues and train. What do you make of this change in the dates of the National Series?

It’s very positive because the players that hold contracts are going to have some time to rest, since we’ve had an intense competitive year and it’s very hard to be up to the game all time long. I also think that other players could be hired by foreign teams so we can keep on improving the quality of Cuban baseball.

Would your contract in Japan stop you from attending Toronto PanAmerican Games?

I don’t think so. I’m looking forward to representing Cuba along with my teammates that play for Japanese baseball. We’ll fight for the title in Toronto.

How does it feel to be playing baseball in Cuba and for Cuba?

I’m very proud. I will always stand for the colors of the Cuban flag and try to give the public a good show, because they are the greatest reward for Cuban athletes.

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