The Leones de Yucatán opens its 2022 season today, a new adventure for the team that has represented Yucatecan professional baseball since 1954.
But it won’t be easy. On Thursday, the Leones were left without their designated third baseman — the second time in less than two weeks — when Taylor Motter suddenly announced his return to the United States to play for the Cincinnati Reds Minor League.
Earlier, when Alex Liddi left, there was a big hole at third base. For now, rookie players such as Marco Jaime or Brayan Quintero will fill the gap.
“This caught us off guard,” said sports director David Cárdenas Cortés, after a team blessing officiated at the Mérida Cathedral. “We’ll start with some of the youngsters. But we are going to look for someone who plays there.”
Yoanner Negrín, one of the Lions’ benchmarks since he arrived seven years ago, will take to the mound to face the Bravos de León in the opening game, scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m after an opening ceremony that is expected to be colorful and spectacular.
The game will be the first without capacity limits since the pandemic.
Not only did Motter leave the team one day before the start of the regular season, the Panamanian relief pitcher Enrique Burgos did not appear on Thursday’s roster. The team also lost third baseman Cheslor Cuthbert, who returned to Nicaragua during training.
Leones Manager Luis Matos said that despite their ongoing search for a third baseman, the team is well balanced. The Leones have been most praised for their pitching, and the current rotation is considered among the best in the Mexican Baseball League.