Cuban baseball stars, the Gurriel brothers, defect during Caribbean tournament


Reuters reports that Yulieski and Lourdes Gurriel fled team camp, “probably to seek US careers, indicating Major League treaty with Cuba on transfers is no closer to fruition.”

Two brothers from Cuba’s pre-eminent baseball family have abandoned a Cuban team travelling in the Dominican Republic, presumably to defect and later seek professional careers in the United States, official Cuban media has reported.

Yulieski Gurriel, 31, and Lourdes Gurriel Jr, 22, left the hotel where a Cuban team had been staying “in full attitude of surrender to the merchants of for-profit professional baseball”, the report said.

There were a record 150 baseball defections in Cuba in 2015, according to Cuban journalist Francys Romero, but the Gurriel brothers would be an exceptional loss because of their fame and because Yulieski had always been seen as a loyal player who had shunned potential riches in the United States.

The Gurriels had just concluded playing in the Caribbean Series featuring championship teams from Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Venezuela. Those clubs are reinforced with other players from their respective leagues.

The Gurriels normally play for the Havana Industriales along with a third brother, Yunieski, but represented Ciego de Avila as reinforcements in the Caribbean Series.

They are among the best-known players in Cuba and their father, Lourdes Gurriel Sr, was also a star player. [. . .]

[Above: Yulieski Gurriel, shown receiving a baseball bat from Fidel Castro in March 2006 . Photograph: Claudia Daut/Reuters.]

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