EDMONTON - A tournament chairman said Wednesday that two prominent players from Cuba's junior baseball team may have defected in Edmonton.
Ron Hayter said 2008 IBAF World Junior AAA starting pitcher Noel Arguelles and infielder Jose Iglesias were last seen Sunday night at their team meal at the University of Alberta's Lister Hall.
"Rumors were swirling around a couple of days ago. There were denials everywhere. Both players ate the pre-game meal, then went back to their rooms at the university and got dressed to go on the bus, and they didn't get on the bus," said Hayter.
Hayter there's also talk that two more players might have defected.
"Unfortunately we can't really get involved in these problems and it's up to the team's managers," said Hayter. "The international body is discouraged by all of this. We, as an organizing committee, don't want it to happen because it weakens their team."
Defection has become familiar territory for Cuba, which has faced the prospect of desertion at many international tournaments.
Edmonton has hosted seven tournaments similar to this over the past 27 years but it wasn't until the 2000 tournament that any defections were reported.
That year three Cubans defected, most notably Yuniesky Betancourt, who now plays shortstop for the Seattle Mariners.