Cuban ballplayer tells newspaper he is defecting
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Cuban pitcher Misael Siverio told a Spanish-language newspaper he has defected to the United States and is going to try to make it to the major leagues.
Siverio was part of the Cuban national team that traveled to Iowa for an exhibition game against a collegiate all-star team from the U.S. But he apparently left the delegation after it arrived in Des Moines on Tuesday afternoon.
“Leaving behind your country is not easy, but this was a decision that I gave a lot of thought,” Siverio told El Nuevo Herald in Miami. “Of course, my dream is to play in the majors, and from now on I will start taking the first steps to make it happen.”
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida also welcomed the 24-year-old Siverio to the U.S. in a post on her Twitter account on Wednesday. A message was left by The Associated Press seeking comment from the Cuban-American Republican.
Siverio was not listed when U.S. organizers updated the Cuba squad on Wednesday. Team USA CEO Paul Seiler told the AP that, from Cuba’s perspective, Siverio is no longer a member of their delegation.
Seiler and Antonio Becali, the head of the Cuban delegation, declined further comment.
The Cubans are in Iowa to play a team of American college stars on Thursday in the opener of a five-game series spanning three cities.
The games will mark the first extended series between the two countries in American ballparks since 1996.