08/20/13 - ESPN - Yasiel Puig open to playing for Cuba
MIAMI -- Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig said Monday that he could see
himself playing for Cuba, if defectors were allowed to play for the
national team one day.
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Puig was asked about the possibility because of a recent meeting between
Dr. Tony Castro, the son of Cuban leader Fidel Castro, and Oakland
Athletics Cuban-born outfielder Yoenis Cespedes in Toronto. After that
meeting, there has been speculation that Cuban baseball authorities might
someday allow some of the Cuban defectors in major league baseball to
compete in tournaments such as the World Baseball Classic.
Puig declined to comment specifically on the World Baseball Classic, saying
"All I want to do is focus on baseball, whether I'm playing for Cuba --
where I was before -- or with the Dodgers."
Interest in the Dodgers rookie was high in his first appearance in South
Florida, which has a large Cuban population. Puig and the Dodgers were
facing Marlins rookie righthander Jose Fernandez, who defected from Cuba
when he was 14.
The two Cubans are seen as frontrunners for the National League Rookie of
the Year award, along with Dodgers starter Hyun-Jin Ryu and Arizona's
Puig chatted with Fernandez before Monday's game and said he's happy for
his countryman. Asked about the competition for the Rookie of the Year
award, he said, "All of these players are giving it their best, and when
the season is done, may the best one win. ... We have another one on our
team, too [referring to Ryu]."
ESPNLosAngeles.com's Mark Saxon contributed to this report.
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