Cuban stars make headlines during NPB's opening weekend

Cuban stars make headlines during NPB's opening weekend
29/03/2021
Alfredo Despaigne hit his 161st career home run on Sunday. Dayan Viciedo and Leonys Martin homered on Opening Day.

Seven Cuban players are currently under contract with Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) clubs and three of them made the headlines in the opening weekend.

Dayan Viciedo, a 32-year-old slugger in his final year of a three-year contract with the Chunichi Dragons worth US$ 9.9 million, drove in all the runs of the Dragons' 7-6 opening day victory against the Hiroshima Carp. Viciedo's performance included a home run. It is the third time that Viciedo homers on Opening Day since he plays in Japan.

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Leonys Martin, a 32-year old centre fielder who plays for the Chiba Lotte Marines, also homered on Opening Day. His home run, however, didn't prevent the Marines' losing 8-2 against the defending champions Fukuoka Softbank Hawks.

Alfredo Despaigne, the 34-year-old superstar slugger nicknamed El Inmenso, hit his first home run of the season on Sunday, leading the Hawks to a 6-5 win against the Marines. Despaigne has now 161 NPB home runs and left behind fellow Cuban slugger Orestes Destrade, who hit 160 for the Seibu Lions in two stints: 1989-1992 and 1995.

Fukuoka also has on their roster infielder Yurisbel Gracial and pitcher Livan Moinelo. The three stars were on Cuba's team at the WBSC Premier12 2019.

There are currently 68 foreign players under contract with NPB organizations, the majority (32) is from the United States. The other import players come from the Dominican Republic (13), Venezuela (6). Taiwan (5), Kingdom of the Netherlands (2), Puerto Rico, South Africa, Lithuania (1).


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