By Matthew Tallarini
World Baseball Network
Cuban National Team assistant pitching Andres Garcia Ortega did not return to Cuba after the 2023 Caribbean Cup that was held in Puerto Rico from October 1-8, Miguel Rodriguez of Pelota Cubana USA reported on Saturday.
Garcia Ortega will be replaced by another coaching staff member for the 2023 Pan American Games.
Garcia Ortega was also the pitching coach for the 2022 U-15 World Cup with the Cuban National Team under manager Alexander Urquiola Hernandez, where they placed second, losing to the United States in the gold medal game. According to Hernandez of Pelota Cubana USA, “only five players from the U-15 World Cup team who are still part of that 20-man roster are still under the FCB.”
Garcia Ortega was the assistant pitching coach for the 2023 Central American and Caribbean Games that were held in late June and early July in San Salvador, El Salvador, where Cuba won silver during the international senior event. Cuba appeared in the gold medal game against Mexico, but the game was rained out, resulting in Mexico winning the gold medal due to having the best overall record during the tournament.
Garcia Ortega started his coaching duties during the 2022 Serie Nacional regular season with the Tigres de Ciego de Ávila. Garcia Ortega also was on the coaching staff for the Tigres de Ciego de Avila during the 62nd Serie Nacional regular season.
The 2023 Serie Nacional season was the second season that the league operated as a spring and summer league after playing in the winter for 60 seasons.
Garcia Ortega helped build the 2023 World Baseball Classic roster while the national team was practicing in Havana at Estadio Latinoamericano prior traveling to Japan and Taiwan for their exhibition games against club teams for both countries and other national teams before the start of Pool A at Taichung Intercontinental Stadium. Pedro Lazo was the pitching coach and Jose Elosegui was the assistant pitching and bullpen coach during the 2023 World Baseball Classic coaching staff for Cuba.
Cuba stayed at the Verdanza Hotel in Carolina, Puerto Rico, during the 2023 Caribbean Cup, from which piuther Franky Quintana left the team prior to Cuba’s rain out against Curacao on October 5.
Rodriguez also reported that, “Artemiseño pitcher Yuniesky García was taken off this trip as a possible deserter, since he was not liked by the Cuban authorities, however four members still left the delegation, even the Artemiseño was not taken into account for the team that will travel to the Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile.”
Quintana, outfielder Osday Silva, and pitcher Yeudis Reyes were the other three athletes with the Cuban national team that left the tournament and did not return. Quintana, Silva, and Reyes will be on the Federación Cubana de Beisbol exempt list entering the 2024 international baseball calendar year.
Cuba has had several players that left during international club and senior events this year, starting with catcher Ivan Prieto at the 2023 World Baseball Classic, who left from the Ritz Carlton on Key Biscayne, Florida. Pitcher Yariel Rodriguez left Havana for the Dominican Republic after the WBC in late March, and pitcher Javier Mirabel bailed for Mexico after the 2023 Central American and Caribbean Games in San Salvador, El Salvador. All are seeking free agency in Major League Baseball.
Cuba won the 2023 Caribbean Cup, defeating Curacao in the final game on October 8, 3-1 in Fajardo, Puerto Rico.
The Cuban roster for the 2023 Pan American Games will be built with players that are under contract with the FCB that are playing in Serie Nacional this past 2023 season, the second season of operation of the 2023-24 Elite League that under contract from the FCB and players that are playing in professional leagues including the Liga de Béisbol Profesional de la República Dominicana and Liga ARCO Mexicana del Pacifico who are under contract to the FCB.
The Pan American Games baseball tournament will be held from October 18-28 at the Baseball and Softball Center in Cerrillos, Chile.
Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, and Cuba all qualified for the 2023 Pan American Games by their performance at the 2023 Central American and Caribbean Games this past summer in San Salvador, El Salvador.
The Pan American Games will have a total of eight nations in the baseball event, including No. 3 Mexico, No. 6 Venezuela, No. 8 Cuba, No. 9 Dominican Republic, No. 11 Panama, No. 23 Brazil, No. 16 Colombia, and host nation Chile, which is not ranked in the World Baseball Rankings.