Tuesday, March 22, 2016

MLB in Cuba Roster Features US Umps Diaz, Hernandez

Umpires Laz Diaz and Angel Hernandez represented MLB in Cuba as American baseball and the Tampa Bay Rays journeyed to the island nation for an exhibition game against the Cuban National Team. For the historic event, baseball selected the two Florida-based umpires because of their connection to Cuba. Hernandez is the only umpire to have been born in Cuba (Havana) while the Miami-born Diaz is the son of Cuban immigrants and in 2010 was inducted into the Cuban Hall of Fame.

This was Hernandez's second visit to Cuba in over 50 years; he first returned in December 2015 for missionary work and to participate in a Cuban umpire clinic, going back to his old La Playa Gunabo neighborhood in Old Havana to spread his father's ashes: "I cried like a baby," he said.

Diaz also had been back to Cuba before the MLB in Cuba event, and had family waiting for him: "I didn’t think this trip would have such an impact on me, but the hair on my arm stands just talking about it. It’s very special, because I have eight family members who left at 4 a.m. from La Pachita, in the north-central part of the island, to come see me umpire the game."

MLB previously played in Cuba in 1999 when the Baltimore Orioles faced off against the national team.

Umpiring Assignments, Rays vs Team Cuba, Estadio Latinoamericano, Havana, CUB
HP: Elber Ibarra (Cuba)
1B: Angel Hernandez (MLB)
2B: Juan Jose Cuevas (Cuba)
3B: Laz Diaz (MLB)
LF: Jorge Luis Perez (Cuba)
RF: Luis Felipe Casana (Cuba)


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