Marti, Gomez didn't defect for MLB

Updated: January 11, 2009, 8:36 PM ET
By Enrique Rojas | ESPNdeportes.com

SANTO DOMINGO -- The possibility of an MLB career was not the primary reason pitcher Yadel Marti and outfielder Yasser Gomez left Cuba in a raft during the holidays.

The first and most important reason, according to them, was leaving a life of abuse, humiliation and injustices.

"We are tired that the authorities didn't respect us and treat us like children," said Marti said, Cuba's best pitcher in the first World Baseball Classic in 2006.

"In Cuba, although we were good players, we were underestimated and disrespected. Injustices forced us to decide," added Gomez.

Marti and Gomez, who left Cuba illegally on Dec. 22, spoke with ESPNdeportes.com from New York, where they have been since Thursday.

Both players contracted Puerto Rican agent Jaime Torres to represent them in their pursuit of getting MLB contracts. They plan to travel to the Dominican Republic in the next couple of days to begin the process.

Contrary to what was reported earlier, Marti and Gomez never went through the Dominican Republic during their two-week odyssey that took them from Cuba to Mexico and then to the United States.

Both players, who played with Industriales de Habana in the Cuban National Series tournament, were banned from Cuban baseball after being caught trying to illegally leave the island last November.

"It was the only way for us to keep playing ball, because we couldn't do that anymore in Cuba," Marti said about the decision to defect.

Gomez added: "They [Cuban authorities] committed many injustices against me. They didn't recruit me for the National Team since 2002 besides the fact that I was amongst the best five Cuban hitters every year, without any explanation, and without any indiscipline act from me."

"It was a very tough decision, but necessary. Too many injustices against us," Gomez added.

Torres, who is in Argentina, will travel to New York on Monday to meet with the players. The staff is very confident that both players can play in the majors next season.

"[Marti and Gomez] will be available for next season, if not for the first game for the first few days," said Torres. "For the talent I have no fear, they are both ready to play with the best."

Marti does not have a powerful fastball. He relies more on his control with his breaking pitches.

"MLB baseball is no different than the level of international baseball that we have faced in recent years," Marti said.

Enrique Rojas is a reporter for ESPNdeportes.com.

Enrique Rojas is a reporter and columnist for ESPNdeportes.com and ESPN.com.

ALSO SEE