Cuban baseball player defects

First baseman Yozzen Cuesta of the Cuban team at the World Baseball Challenge has apparently defected.

Cuesta was not in the Ciego de Avila Tigres lineup for the championship game Thursday evening against Japan, a game the Cubans won 14-4.

Tournament co-chair Jim Swanson knew little about the details as he prepared for the final.

"We were made aware (Thursday) morning that one of the Cuban players may have left the team. We are working with the authorities, both Canadian and Cuban, to determine what his status is."

Cuezza is the second Cuban first baseman to defect this month, following Jose Daniel Abreu, who left his club team during a trip to Haiti, crossing the border to the Dominican Republic. Abreu was the all-star first baseman at the 2011 World Baseball Challenge, also won by Cuba.

Major League baseball considers defectors to be free agents, meaning they can be signed by any team.

Swanson does not think the apparent defection will harm the tournament's standing with Cuba.

"They have had players defect at other tournaments, and have returned to those tournaments."

It is considered likely Cuesta's apaprent defection was a planned event, and not a spur-of-the-moment decision.

Cuban officials would not comment on the matter on Thursday.


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