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IX Women's Baseball World Cup 2023 - Group B | presented by CARNEXT - Official Payoff

Alfredo Despaigne: "Women's baseball is developing in Cuba"

Alfredo Despaigne: "Women's baseball is developing in Cuba"
20/09/2023
The international baseball veteran, currently representing NPB's Fukuoka Softball Hawks, visited the Cuban National Team during the Women's Baseball World Cup Group B.

During their last game at the Women's Baseball World Cup Group B, presented by CARNEXT, the Cuba National Team had a very special fan in Alfredo Despaigne.

Born in 1986, Despaigni is nicknamed El Inmenso back home. He has represented Cuba in all the major international competitions like the 2008 Olympics (silver medal), the WBSC Premier12 2015 and 2019, the Baseball World Cup 2007 and 2009 (two silver medals and the 2009 Home Run title) and the last four World Baseball Classics.

Despaigne is a Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) veteran. He debuted in 2014 for the Chiba Lotte Marines and has played for the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks since 2017, contributing to four consecutive Japan Series titles, 2017-2020. In 2020, he tied the all-time Japan Series RBI record.

The slugger appeared in 876, 18 in the 2023 season, combining 184 home runs and 545 RBIs. His best season was 2019. He hit 36 home runs and had 88 RBIs. His RBI record season was in 2017 with 103. That year, he also hit 35 homers.

The WBSC talked to Despaigne at the Miyoshi Kinsai Stadium on the last day of the tournament.

Despaigne 3

"I decided to come today and finally watch one of their games. It's late in the tournament, but I'm thrilled to see a Cuban women's baseball team play in Japan, and I wanted to be with them. I'm trying to cheer the girls up," said Despaigne.

What's your opinion on women's baseball in Cuba?
"It's developing. It's a slow process, and I think they're far from their goal, but they're doing a good job. Participating in this World Cup will strengthen women's baseball in Cuba. We will see stronger women's Cuban teams in the future."

Despaigne is one of many Cuban players performing in foreign leagues.
"I think we are in a good spot. I really appreciated the fact Cuba allowed players active in the United States or Mexico, adding to those who play in Japan like myself play for the National Team. It was a huge step forward. I think we will see more in the next years."

What level of (men's) baseball are you witnessing here in Japan?
"It's the second best in the world. They won three editions of the World Baseball Classic out of five. It's excellent players showcasing excellent baseball."

The NPB leagues look for power when they sign import players.
"This is true. Home run power or power pitchers."

Where do you see yourself in the future?
"I love playing here. Let's see how the negotiation for my next contract goes. I also played in Mexico; that's another option. Maybe the Dominican Republic. There are many leagues."