Yulieski Gourriel arrived in Japan today on an Air France flight from Cuba with a stopover in Paris. It took him about twenty-one hours to get to Japan.
Some quotes from various sources:
"Japan is a good place to play a high level of baseball. I hear the team is not doing well, but the season is long. I will do my best to help the team advance to the Climax Series." [Sanspo]
"I only brought things I need to play baseball. I thought about baseball on the plane. I am focused on baseball. I am focused only on helping the DeNA Bay Starts make it to the playoffs." [Facebook]
"I thought about how I should approach Japanese baseball while I was on the plane. I knew about DeNA being in last place since I was in Cuba. The season is long. I will do my best to help the team move up and make the Climax Series." [Sponichi]
"I like the color and it's also the color for the Bay Stars." (He was wearing a blue shirt and reporters likely asked him about it.) [Nikkan Sports]
The Bay Stars have posted a photo of Gourriel holding up his uniform.
The Havana Times posted an article on Gourriel. It's a worthwhile read, but here's a snip:
... “I know it’s going to be a complicated challenge. It’s the first time I’ll play on a professional team, and I’ll be doing it in Japan, which has the world’s second-best baseball league. It’s a huge challenge and I’m sure it’s going to be very difficult at first, as I’ve never been in a similar situation before, much less in such a high-ranked league.”
Yulieski will no doubt face significant changes, such as a new game philosophy and the intense training sessions that characterize Asian baseball. What worries Yulieski the most today, however, is his ability to adapt to the pitching style, one of the highlights of their play over the past few years. “They have an exquisite way of pitching, with a great variety of strategies that you don’t see often in Cuba. I think it will take some time to adapt,” Yulieski said.
... “I’ve had some bitter experiences there, because I don’t really like Japanese food and I lost a lot of weight during the international sporting events in Japan I’ve participated in. At the last World Tournament, I lost five kilograms in only 15 days, so I’m worried about that.”
Source: Havana Times 5/30/2014
Nikkan Sports thinks Guillermo Moscoso might be taken off the active roster to make room for Gourriel because Tony Blanco, Aarom Baldiris, and Jorge Sosa fill important positions.
Note: Team are allowed to carry up to four foreign players on the active roster. They can mix and match pitchers and position players, but there can never be more than three
of each pitchers or position players at any one time.
According to Sports Hochi, Gourriel will play in Ni-gun games against Seibu on June 3 and 4 before he makes his Ichi-gun debut on June 6 against Nippon Ham at Yokohama. Second base will be his primary position with the team, but Kiyoshi Nakahata is also interested in seeing if he can play some short and third.
Note: If Gourriel plays second, Takehiro Ishikawa will compete/spend some time in center with Sho Aranami. If he can play short, Ishikawa can remain at second with Aranami in center. If Gourriel can play third, Baldiris can move to first and can give Blanco some rest since he still might not be at full strength.