By Yusseff Díaz
Dominican manager Héctor Borg announced that ex-big leaguer and experienced lefty Raúl Valdés will face the United States in the second game of the Olympic qualifying tournament for the Dominican Republic on June 1st at 7pm at Fitteam Stadium in West Palm Beach.
Valdés was supposed to represent the island during the Pan Am Games in 2019 but an injury robbed him of that pleasure.
I spoke to Valdés about how he has been preparing for the tournament and he had this to say,” I feel good mentally and physically. I’m going to give the team my best effort and hopefully that will be enough to gain a victory. In my opinion the US has the best team on paper in this tournament. “
On the international stage Valdés is almost lights out. His deceptive three quarters delivery from the left side is almost unhittable for people who aren’t in farm systems. In the Caribbean World Series with the DR he’s 3-1 with two titles in five appearances. Valdés also revealed to me that he’s stoked about this event,” I’m excited about pitching in this event, especially for this country that had treated me so well since my arrival here.”
I also asked him how he would feel about facing his native Cuba,”If I have to pitch against Cuba I will, this is sports not war. I also asked him before the tournament about his desire to pitch for Cuba, because the Cuban Federation opened it’s doors to defectors not affiliated with MLB and he declared this,” I would love to represent Cuba in an international event. This would give me great joy. But in typical Cuban form he was never contacted.
In his career that has spanned 22 years in various baseball leagues such as MLB,NPB, the Mexican League and various Winter Leagues he has compiled a record of 164-152, with an ERA of 3.69 and has struck out 2,174 during that time. If Cooperstown was like Springfield Valdés would have been there long ago.