SPORTS

Cuba sees 2 baseball players defect during trip to U.S., country confirms

FILE - In this Feb. 7, 2015 file photo, Cubas Yadiel Hernández slides safe at the home plate during a Caribbean Series baseball semifinal game against Venezuela in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Cuba is confirming that two baseball players, including Hernández, have defected while in the United States for a series of friendly games against U.S. collegians. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo, File)

FILE - In this Feb. 7, 2015 file photo, Cubas Yadiel Hernández slides safe at the home plate during a Caribbean Series baseball semifinal game against Venezuela in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Cuba is confirming that two baseball players, including Hernández, have defected while in the United States for a series of friendly games against U.S. collegians. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo, File)

Two Cuban baseball players have defected while in the United States for a series of games against U.S. collegians, the island's official sports media confirmed.

Third baseman Luís Yander La O left the team in North Carolina, where the Cuban team has been playing tuneups ahead of the Pan American Games in Toronto, according to a Friday report by the sports website Jit — a phonetic rendering of "hit" in Spanish.

An earlier story from Jit said outfielder Yadiel Hernández also defected. The website did not offer details.

The 25-year-old La O batted .329 in the Cuban league last season for Santiago. Hernández is a 28-year-old who averaged .355 for Matanzas in 2014-15.

Defections have continued to hit Cuba's national team despite a decision in late 2013 to raise athletes' salaries and let them sign lucrative contracts to compete overseas during the offseason.

More On This...

This year four Cubans have gone on contracts to Canada, and three to Japan.

Cuban baseballers can now seek to be released from their local clubs, with the national federation deciding whether they are needed for the national team.

Infielder Yoan Moncada was granted release last year, left the country and later agreed to a record $31.5 million signing bonus with the Boston Red Sox.

Like us on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter & Instagram