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Monday, March 19, 2018

Henry Urrutia enjoys his return to Cuba

Por Fidel Orihuela

The permanent exodus of Cuban players to try their luck in professional baseball includes either some very young ones that are not very well known in the island, some renown baseball players or the sons of former Cuban baseball stars. That is the case of Henry Urrutia, son of Ermidelio Urrutia, one of the most important Cuban hitters in the 80’s. Henry, who played in Cuba for the last time in 2009 had the opportunity now to return to his country wearing the uniform of the Diablos Rojos del Mexico and has enjoyed the opportunity.

Urrutia was a very good outfielder and first baseman in his firsts seasons in Cuba. He decided then to try himself in professional baseball and he made it to the MLB with the Orioles from Baltimore, although he never got to be a regular. Then he would go to the Minor Leagues, where he played regular, mainly in Triple-A. “I fulfilled my dream of getting to the best baseball in the world and I did my numbers even though I know they were not relevant. It is hard to have a career in the MLB because it does not only depend on the stats. Professional baseball is unpredictable; you never know where you are going to end up or the next thing that is going to happen”, said Urrutia to the Cuban media during his recent visit to the island.

“The opportunities of employment always appear, that is why you have to prepare yourself. Now there are lots of Cubans in Japan, South Korea has also increased its level and of course, there is the Mexican League, which is very strong and has also worked as a springboard for many baseball players which are trying to return to the MLB”, said Henry, who finished his time in the MLB with the Boston Red Sox, also in the Minor Leagues. About his return to Cuba, he said that he had no words to express what he was feeling. “When I left Cuba I gave up the dream of playing baseball here, something that I always enjoyed very much. To return now and face my former team mates, friends that I played with when I was I kid, gives me lots of happiness and it is something that cannot be compared to anything”.

During the friendly games that faced two Mexican teams against teams from the island, Urrutia noticed that not too many people attended the games although he assures that there was a lot of expectation. “I received a lot of questions and greetings from the fans from everywhere. That did not surprise me. The Cuban fans have no comparison. They know their players, they love them and they don’t care if are playing for the rivals, they are always going to support us because they are real fans”, he expressed.

About the health of Cuban baseball nowadays, very questioned because of the continuous exodus and the unwise decisions of the authorities, Urrutia assured that nothing will get in the way of the Cubans’ national pastime. “I lost touch with the Cuban baseball for a while since I left. I stopped seeing the games but I have to say that I am pretty impressed right now, because apart from the very good players that we all know of there is a group of young ones with a lot of talent, good arms, good batters and good infielders…I wish they were given more opportunities to show what they are worth, it does not matter if it is here or in the MLB. I think they have a lot to give and they are showing it everywhere in the world. You get to Venezuela and there they are, or in Dominican Republic or in Mexico, anywhere…and they are always making good stats. Undoubtedly, Cuban baseball is in good shape and it is far from dying like some people think. There are lots of good young players and that is never going to end”.