Caribbean Series Set To Begin In New Park

HERMOSILLO, MEXICO—The 2013 Caribbean Series will be played in a new ballpark with a new whole competition system. But it will be played with the same passion that has made the event one of the highlights of the offseason.

The four teams are now set for the week-long tournament which will be held in Hermosillo, Mexico, approximately 175 miles from the U.S. The Dominican Republic will be represented by Leones del Escogido; host Mexico is sending the Yaquis de Ciudad Obregón. Puerto Rico’s Criollos de Caguas and Venezuela’s Navegantes de Magallanes round out the field.

The Dominican Republic has been the favorite at Caribbean Series in recent history, and it’s easy to see why. Including Caribbean Series titles by Escogido in 2010 and 2012, a team from the Dominican Republic has won the Caribbean Series title 19 times since 1970, the most among teams currently competing in the tournament. Moreover, the Dominican Republic has won the title 13 times since 1990.

The Dominican Republic’s Leones del Escogido will be led by Dodgers infielder Hanley Ramirez, Rays closer Fernando Rodney, Red Sox righthander T.J. Pena and former major leaguers including Fernando Tatis and Miguel Tejeda.

Overall, a team from Mexico has won the Caribbean Series six times since it began participating in the tournament in 1970, including the 2011 title won by Obregon.

Yaquis has won three championships in row in the Mexican Pacific League, with players like the major league veterans Luis Ayala and Alfredo Amezaga; Royals righthander Luis Mendoza; former Reds farmhand Jesse Gutierrez and Karim Garcia.

A team from Venezuela has won the Caribbean Series seven times, with the last two titles coming in ’06 and ’09. Navegantes del Magallanes will try to bring the pennant back to Venezuela. They are led by the former manager Luis Sojo, but the team is hurt by the decision of Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval to not make the trip to Hermosillo.

Puerto Rico has 14 titles but has not won since Santurce won the championship in ’00. Caguas last won the Caribbean Series in ’87. They are managed by Alex Cora.

Caguas has a mix of veterans and youngsters including Royals minor league infielder, Reynaldo Navarro; Padres minor league outfielder Jorge Padilla and Red Sox righthander Jose De la Torre.

The hosting city, Hermosillo, has a new state-of-the-art ballpark, with 16,000 capacity. There is a new format as well that replaced the traditional round robin. Now a final championship game would be held on the last day of the series, Feb. 7.

Caribbean Series Schedule (all games Mountain Time)
Friday February 1
Venezuela vs. Dominican Republic 3 p.m.
Puerto Rico vs. Mexico 7:30 p.m.
Saturday February 2
Dominican Republic vs. Puerto Rico 1 p.m.
Mexico vs. Venezuela 5 p.m.
Sunday February 3
Venezuela vs. Puerto Rico 13:00
México vs. Dominican Republic 17:00
Puerto Rico vs. Dominican Republic 13:00
Venezuela vs. México  17:00
Tuesday, February 5
Puerto Rico vs. Venezuela 16:00
Rep. Dominicana vs. México 19:30
Wednesday, February 6
Dominican Republic vs. Venezuela 4 p.m.
Mexico vs. Puerto Rico 19:30
Thursday, February 7
Best record vs. second best record 7:30 p.m.