five champions of World Series are the main attractions of the rosters of the Mexican Baseball League (LMB) at the start of the 2022 season, in which the Toros de Tijuana leave with the dream of being two-time champions, the Diablos Rojos del México with the mission of breaking their untitled eight-year drought and others like Monclova Steelers and Sultanes de Monterrey with the task of regaining their winning reputation.
One of the plans of LMB in recent years is to promote the hiring of star players, so signing more and more elements with Major League experience generates high expectations among fans. For this 2022, Pablo Sandoval (San Francisco Giants), Josh Reddick (Houston Astros), Addison Russel (Chicago Cubs), Fernando Rodney and Javy Guerra (Washington Nationals) stand out as champions. But in addition to them there are names like Neftalí Feliz, Khris Davis or Junior Guerra, who have a career of between seven and 10 years in the Big Top.
For the start of the 2022 season, the LMB It has a total of 32 players with experience in the Major Leagues. The most experienced is the Dominican Fernando Rodney (Toros de Tijuana), who spent 18 years in the best baseball in the world and was crowned with the Washington Nationals, to others who were only there for a year. His contribution to the Mexican league is not only measured in those years, but also in the performance they had.
Others like Pablo Sandoval, nicknamed “El Panda” and recently signed by the Monclova Steelers, is one of the players with the biggest poster in the LMB 2022. The Venezuelan won three World Series with the San Francisco Giants (2010, 2012 and 2014) and was even MVP of one of them (2012). He will live his first experience in Mexico at the age of 35 and assures that he does not arrive thinking about retirement or lowering his level, but rather the opposite.
“It is an important challenge for me and my career. I’m going for a second wind in Mexico. Having another environment and another style was vital for me”, he said in an interview with Extrabase a few days after sealing his agreement with the Monclova ninth, who lifted his only LMB title in the 2019 season.
Age is an important factor in terms of the experience these players can bring to Mexican rosters. Of the 32 registered major leaguers, Fernando Rodney is the oldest at 45 years old and the only one with more than four decades of life; 22 more players are between 30 and 38 years old, while only nine are under 30, with Roel Martínez (Toros de Tijuana) and Francis Mertes (Diablos Rojos) being the youngest at 26.
“In my career I have had great, good, ugly moments, it has gone badly for me, but if I can help in things apart from the game I will do it, things that we do not talk about, with that I think I can help young players. I can also support pitching things and managing the game, because here the game is played a little differently than in the United States, but you can also see the moves and that is why I say that I can guide the youngsters in that way”, explained Texan Javy War to this newspaper after having signed in this 2022 with the Toros de Tijuana.
According to the official portal of the Minor Leagues, in total there are 20 former major leaguers who will make their debut in the LMB 2022, with some such as the Venezuelan Enderson Franco or the New Yorker Jason García with only one season of experience in MLB. However, the figure is more than double the number that participated in 2021, when there were only seven.
“In some way, the combination of content distribution, stars on the field and the response from the fans is what began to shape a league with a different face, with a project for solid growth. We already have a certain inertia or more rhythm in baseball terms to continue with this dynamic, “said Horacio De la Vega, president of the LMB, last year, in an interview with Milenio.
The teams with the most former major leaguers on their 2022 rosters are the Acereros de Monclova and the Diablos Rojos del México with six each, followed by Toros de Tijuana with five, Sultanes de Monterrey with four, Leones de Yucatán with three, Saraperos de Saltillo and Cotton farmers from Unión Laguna have two, while Guerreros de Oaxaca, Generales de Durango, Pericos de Puebla and Tecolotes de Dos Laredos have one per team.
However, some figures such as the Cuban Yasiel Puig or the Dominican Bartolo Colón, who in 2021 were part of the rosters of El Águila de Veracruz and Acereros de Monclova, respectively, are no longer in the LMB. Even so, the door for the major league talent continues to generate attraction from the Mexican diamonds.