Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Baseball [Print without images]

Monday, December 29, 2008
Sources: Marti, Gomez defect

By Enrique Rojas
ESPNdeportes.com

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Right-hander Yadel Marti, Cuba's best pitcher in the first World Baseball Classic in 2006, and outfielder Yasser Gomez left the island and are in an unknown location before attempting to reach the Dominican Republic to seek an MLB career, sources told ESPNdeportes.com.

Players' relatives and friends in Cuba confirmed their departure, without disclosing details of the planned route.

Marti and Gomez, members of the popular team Industriales de la Habana, were kicked off the team's payroll for the current National Series tournament "for having committed a serious [infraction]," according to the Cuban baseball authorities.

Sources informed ESPNdeportes.com last month that Marti and Gomez were punished and banned from Cuban baseball after being caught with others while trying to board a boat to leave the country illegally.

A talent scout who has seen Marti and Gomez playing at international events told ESPNdeportes.com that both are ready to play in the majors.

Marti, 29, was the best of Cuba's pitchers in the 2006 WBC. The right-hander went 1-0 with two saves and led the tournament in ERA (0.00) after not allowing a single run in 12 2/3 innings. He was elected to the WBC All Star team.

Marti won 67 games with a 3.23 ERA in his career with Industriales but participated in a limited capacity last season (4-2, 3.12 ERA in 15 games).

Gomez, 28, is a fast outfielder who was Rookie of the Year in 1997 and hit .394 with 51 runs scored and 41 RBIs in 66 games in the most recent National Series tournament. He has a .331 career average with Industriales.

He was left off the Cuban National Team in the 2006 WBC and the 2008 Olympic Games.

Enrique Rojas is a reporter for ESPNdeportes.com