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Two Cubans playing in Caribbean Series defect

Two Cubans playing in Caribbean Series defect

Posted by Juan Gavasa on February 04, 2015

Two players from the Cuban team competing in the Caribbean Series have defected.

Heriberto Suarez, national director of baseball in Cuba, confirmed to USA TODAY Sports that shortstop Dainer Moreira and 19-year-old pitcher Vladimir Gutierrez had abandoned the team on Tuesday.

"They decided to leave the hotel," Suarez said. "We met today and we're going to continue forward. We remain united and confident."

The defections happened Tuesday night after the Cuban team returned to its hotel following its second loss in as many games in the tournament. Suarez did not provide details, but said the players' departures are especially painful because Cuba is in the middle of a competition.

"We are very disappointed," he said. "But this will serve as a platform for us to carry on stronger and more unified. We will continue giving our best and will return to Cuba together."

The defections are the latest blow to Cuban baseball, which has suffered a talent drain in recent years as All-Star-quality players like Jose Abreu, Yasiel Puig, Aroldis Chapman and Yoenis Cespedes have escaped from the Communist island to pursue their fortune in Major League Baseball.

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