By Yusseff Díaz
Sources close to Pelota Cubana have confirmed to us that recent Cubam defector Lázaro Blanco will pitch in the Dominican Winter League with the Estrellas Orientales. The righty who is represented by Carlos Pérez and R&I Sports is a marquee acquisition for the club.
Blanco decided to defect after the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in West Palm Beach when he decided not to board a flight bound for Mexico and ended up vacating his contract with the Saraperos de Saltillo. His reason for not boarding the flight was to claim asylum in the United States.
Blanco who is a highly decorated pitcher Cuba went 7-1 and posted a 2.30 earned run average in 62.2 innings last season in the Serie Nacional. With the Cuban National Team he has posted a 8-4 record, 2.79 ERA and 80 K’s in 84 innings pitched. In the Caribbean World Series he has been a big game pitcher for the other “Big Red Machine ” in the tournament the native of Yara, Cuba has gone 4-1 and an earned run average of 1.22.
The addition of Blanco to the Estrellas solidifies a pitching staff that could possibly include Radhames Liz, Néstor Cortés Jr, and Evan Mcclane. When I asked Blanco about how the affects his career’s trajectory he replied, “I’m very happy about the signing and I want to thank Carlos Pérez and R&I Total Sports. This is a new period in my career and I’m going to leave it all on the field for las Estrellas. I also want to thank everyone who has helped me get to this stage in my career. “
From 2017-2019 Blanco was the most dominant pitcher in the Serie Nacional compiling a record of 33-15. His dominance earned him a contract with the Quebec Capitales, during his time in Canada he had a record of 16-7, ERA of 3.12 and 219 K’s. All this was over the span of two seasons and in 2017 he led the Capitales to a title.
The crafty righty has been the anchor to the Cuban pitching staff in the World Baseball Classic, Pan-Am Games, Premier 12, and Central American Games. During his career in the Serie Nacional mostly with the Alazanes de Granma , Blanco has won 105 games.
At the beginning of your career, you struggled, what adjustments did make to become such a dominant pitcher?
Yes that is true I did struggle to start my career, but after that, I altered my motion and changed my delivery. Changing my delivery made me awkward to hitters and made me the pitcher I am today. I never gave up on myself and because of that, I was able to triumph.
You won back to back titles in Cuba and won another in Canada, which championship was sweeter?
Winning a Serie Nacional title was the most important event of my career because we brought Granma its first title. Now winning a title with Quebec was just as sweet because it was my first championship as a professional.
You pitched a lot in 2018, how did you keep your healthy that season?
I kept up my daily regimen and kept up my pitch counts. Because of that, I was able to stay healthy that season and it showed in my performance in the Caribbean World Series.