Rule mixup costs Cuba two pitchers
Misinterpretation of pitch-count limit leads to ineligibility against Mexico
By Jesse Sanchez / MLB.com
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SAN DIEGO -- Cuban relievers Yulieski Gonzalez and Yunieski Maya were not available against Mexico on Monday because of a mixup regarding the pitch-counts rules.
Under the rules of the 2009 World Baseball Classic, any pitcher who throws 30 or more pitches is disqualified from pitching the next day. Maya and Gonzalez each threw 30 pitches in Sunday's 6-0 loss to Japan, but Cuba believed the two pitchers remained eligible to pitch on Monday because the country followed the guidelines on card given to them by World Baseball Classic, Inc. (WBCI).
The card was later determined to contain an erroneous translation of the pitch-count rule.
Major League Baseball Players' Association chief operating officer Gene Orza, along with Jimmie Lee Solomon, MLB's executive vice president of baseball operations and MLB executive vice president of administration John McHale, met with Cuban delegation members Angel Iglesias, Alfredo Casana and Cuba manager Higinio Velez for 15 minutes before Monday night's game between Mexico and Cuba to resolve the matter.
"We resolved it largely on the strength of Cuban understanding," Orza said. "In a sense, they were wrong, but they were gracious to understand how we got where we got."
According to Orza, the card contained an abbreviated description of some of the rules for the tournament translated from English to Spanish and was meant to be used as an aid for the countries. The card was distributed only to Cuba and Mexico, the Spanish-speaking teams in Pool B in Mexico City.
The official rule book for the World Baseball Classic is written in the official language of the tournament, English.
"The Spanish translation on that card of the English rule which says that you pitch 30 or more pitches and you are ineligible to pitch the next day was incorrect," Orza said. "It said more than 30 pitches.
Higinio Velez, the manager of the Cuban team, in possession of that card, believed on the basis of this card that he was entitled to pitch a pitcher 30 pitches, at which point the pitcher would still be eligible the following day."
On Sunday, Gonzalez pitched 1 2/3 innings before Maya relieved him and followed with 1 2/3 innings. Maya was pulled in the middle of an at-bat against Japanese second baseman Akinori Iwamura.
"That's our mistake and our fault," Orza said. "What prejudice befalls the Cubans [on Monday] is a result of our inefficiency. It is the rule that it's 30 or more pitches. The Cubans accepted that fact and we are all grateful for that."