Rejecting the WBC selection and going to Japan, 161 km Cuban pitcher “It was not an easy decision”

Right-handed pitcher Yoan Lopez (30), who made a fresh start with the Yomiuri Giants of the Japanese professional baseball league, refused to be selected for the World Baseball Classic (WBC) Cuban baseball team and went to Japan. 

On the 29th, Lopez held a press conference to join Yomiuri along with four other foreign players in Tokyo, Japan. Lopez, who signed a one-year, $1.1 million contract with Yomiuri last month, is known to have received an additional $400,000 in incentives. It is known that Yomiuri even paid a transfer fee of 600,000 dollars to his original team, the New York Mets, to recruit Lopez. 

Lopez, who was originally included in Cuba’s WBC 50-man reserve, informed the Cuban Baseball Federation of his intention to refuse to join the Yomiuri camp. According to Japanese media such as ‘Sankei Sports’, Lopez said, “It was not an easy decision to turn down the dream of representing the country. But he thought it was a promise to be with Yomiuri from day one,” he said, adding that he would be with the new team from the start of camp.  먹튀검증

After the press conference, Lopez immediately went to the indoor training ground and started to adapt to the Japanese official ball by playing catch. He warmed up by throwing 18 pitches from the bullpen despite the cold temperature of 2 degrees. 

Lopez, a 190cm, 94kg right-hander, was a fireballer who once threw a 100 mph (about 161 km) fastball. After making his major league debut with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2018, he moved to the New York Mets last year and recorded 121 games (112⅔ innings), 3 wins, 8 losses, 1 save, 26 holds, an average ERA of 4.39, and 92 strikeouts in 5 seasons. 

In Arizona in 2019, he played a key bullpen role with 2 wins, 7 losses, 2 wins, 7 losses, 21 holds, an average ERA of 3.41 and 42 strikeouts in 70 games (60⅔ innings) in Arizona. Since then, his performance has declined little by little, and even after moving to the Mets last year, his ERA was only 5.73 with 1 win in 8 games. However, his speed is alive with an average fastball of 95.9 miles (about 154 km) last year. 

This year, he moves to Japan and starts anew. Director Tatsunori Hara of Yomiuri said, “The first impression is very reassuring. He likes the way he tries to fight. He is a candidate for the finish along with Ota Taisei. There is enough power for that,” he said, revealing his anticipation. Lopez also said, “My strength is my fast ball. I will try to adapt quickly to Japanese baseball and contribute to the team.”

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