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Around the Caribbean: Yoenis Cespedes Returning to Serie Nacional; Buddy Bailey Wins No. 500

 Leif Skodnick - World Baseball Network  |    Dec 28th, 2023 10:56am EST

Yoenis Cespedes of the New York Mets bats against the Atlanta Braves during Opening Day at Citi Field on July 24, 2020 in New York City. Cespedes will play for Granma in the Serie Nacional de Cuba in 2024. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

By Leif Skodnick and Conor Liguori
World Baseball Network

With a 12-10 win over the Leones del Caracas at Estadio La Rinconada, the Tiburones de La Guaira have earned a spot in the Liga Venezolana Beisbol Profesional’s round robin playoffs in January.

The win also gave the Cardenales de Lara first place for the 2023-24 regular season with a 33-23 record, one game better than Caracas, who finished 32-24 after losing three of their last four games.

Danry Vasquez had five RBI in the win, while Sebastian Rivero drove in three runs and former Major Leaguer Yasiel Puig had a two-run homer for La Guaira.

Play-In Game Set For Thursday Night – The Aguilas del Zulia and Navegantes de Magallanes will play Thursday night for a spot in the LVBP Wild Card Series after finishing tied for fifth place with identical 24-32 records. The winner will immediately travel to Maracay to start the Wild Card Series on Friday night, and will need to beat the Tigres de Aragua twice to advance to the round robin.

All LVBP games are streamed live on Beisbolplay.com with a paid subscription.

Bailey Wins No. 500 – With a 2-0 win on Wednesday night, Tigres de Aragua manager Buddy Bailey, who is in his third stint managing the club, earned his 500th victory as a manager in the LVBP.

Earlier in the season, he passed long-time MLB coach Phil Regan, who managed in the LVBP from 1989-2009, as the league’s winningest manager when his team won 10-7 against Zulia on Nov. 19.

Bailey has also been a manager and coach in the Chicago Cubs organization since 2006. He also managed the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox from 1993-96 and 2002-04, and managed in the Atlanta Braves organization from 1983-90.

Round Robin Under Way In LIDOM – The Estrellas Orientales won their first game of the LIDOM Round Robin in dramatic fashion, with Dairon Blanco’s 10th inning double sending home ghost runner Alfredo Reyes for a 2-1 win over the Leones del Escogido.

In the other LIDOM Round Robin opener, the Tigres del Licey topped the Gigantes del Cibao 3-2 on journeyman catcher Jorge Alfaro’s solo homer in the eighth inning.

The LIDOM Round Robin stage is a four-team, 18-game playoff with the top two teams advancing to the championship series. The winner of the LIDOM championship series earns a berth in the Caribbean Series, which will be held in Miami at loanDepot Park in February.

All LIDOM games are streamed on MLB.tv with a paid subscription.

LBPRC Top Performers – Daryl Thompson of the Indios de Mayaguez makes his second appearance on the top performers list, and for good reason. Thompson delivered another spectacular performance in a 3-2 win against the Criollos de Caguas, allowing one earned run and two hits in five innings on Dec. 23.

The former Cincinnati Red is 5-1 with a 2.01 ERA in 40.1 innings this season for the Indios de Mayaguez.

Five Cangrejeros de Santurce pitchers combined to shut out the RA 12 on December 23, and Santurce won the matchup 4-0.

Aldalberto Flores, Brian Gonzalez, Giovanni Soto, Bryan Garcia, and Endrys Briceno combined to allow just three hits and no walks while striking out 12 RA 12 hitters.

Jesmuel Valentin of the Leones de Ponce is a veteran in Liga de Beisbol Profesional Roberto Clemente and hit his first home run of the season in a 9-5 win against the Gigantes de Carolina on Tuesday. He went 2-for-3 in the game with three runs scored.

Valentin is 29 years old and played one season in Major League Baseball in 2018 with the Philadelphia Phillies.

Santurce Opens Up 1.5 Game Lead In LBPRC – The Cangrejeros de Santurce lead the LBPRC by a game and a half over the Gigantes de Carolina with three games left to be played following a 5-0 win against Caguas Wednesday night.

The Criollos de Caguas (19-17) are in third place by half a game over the Leones de Ponce (19-18).

All LBPRC games are streamed live on the league’s facebook page.

Final Regular Season Series Start Tonight in LAMP – The final three-game sets of the 2023-24 Liga ARCO Mexicana del Pacifico season start Thursday night, with four teams still in the hunt for the second half title.

The Naranjeros de Hermosillo and Charros de Jalisco are tied atop the standings at 19-11, while the Venados de Mazatlan (17-13) and the Caneros de Los Mochis are locked up for third, two games back of the top spot.

Jalisco faces the Yaquis de Obregon (16-14), while Hermosillo will face the Aguilas de Mexicali (15-15) to close out the regular season.

The Venados will face the last-place Mayos de Navajoa (6-24), who will make the postseason on the strength of a second-place finish in the first half of the season. Los Mochis will face the Algodoneros de Guasave (13-17).

Liga ARCO Mexicana del Pacifico games can be streamed via Extrabase.tv for a fee.

Cespedes Returning to Serie Nacional de Cuba – Former Major League Yoenis Cespedes is returning to the Serie Nacional de Cuba after 10 years away. He’s expected to play for Granma, per reports from Cuban Baseball Digest and PelotaCubanaUSA.com.

The native of Campechuela, Cuba last appeared in the Serie Nacional in the 2010-11 season, hitting .333/.424/.667 for Granma in 90 games with 33 homers an 99 RBI.

In eight MLB seasons with the Oakland Athletics, Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers and New York Mets, Cespedes batted .273/.327/.497 with 165 home runs and 528 RBI. He won the Home Run Derby in 2013 and 2014 and a Gold Glove in 2015, and was a two-time All-Star.

Cespedes hasn’t been effective at the plate with Aguilas Cibaenas last winter, batting just .167/.239/.406 in 18 games with 12 hits in 64 at-bats, driving in 11 runs and smacking four homers in 2022-23.

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Leif Skodnick - World Baseball Network