Yasiel Puig open to playing for Cuba

Updated: August 20, 2013, 3:31 AM ET
By Ramona Shelburne | ESPNLosAngeles.com

MIAMI -- Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig said Monday that he could see himself playing for Cuba, if defectors were allowed to play for the national team one day.

Puig was asked about the possibility because of a recent meeting between Dr. Tony Castro, the son of Cuban leader Fidel Castro, and Oakland Athletics Cuban-born outfielder Yoenis Cespedes in Toronto. After that meeting, there has been speculation that Cuban baseball authorities might someday allow some of the Cuban defectors in Major League Baseball to compete in tournaments such as the World Baseball Classic.

Puig declined to comment specifically on the World Baseball Classic, saying "All I want to do is focus on baseball, whether I'm playing for Cuba -- where I was before -- or with the Dodgers."

Interest in the Dodgers rookie was high in his first appearance in South Florida, which has a large Cuban population. Puig and the Dodgers were facing Marlins rookie righthander Jose Fernandez, who defected from Cuba when he was 14.

The two Cubans are seen as frontrunners for the National League Rookie of the Year Award, along with Dodgers starter Hyun-Jin Ryu and Arizona's Patrick Corbin.

Puig chatted with Fernandez before Monday's game and said he's happy for his countryman. Asked about the competition for the rookie of the year award, he said, "All of these players are giving it their best, and when the season is done, may the best one win. … We have another one on our team, too [referring to Ryu]."

ESPNLosAngeles.com's Mark Saxon contributed to this report.

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