It wasn’t until 16 months after Juan Carlos Oviedo signed with the Tampa Bay Rays that he finally made his debut for the team. If a name change wasn’t enough, Oviedo had to overcome the lingering effects of Tommy John Surgery, two contract negotiations, and even visa issues to join the Rays.
At the end of the day, though, Oviedo did pitch for the Rays and did a decent job, managing a 3.69 ERA in 32 appearances. Now Oviedo will look to catch on with another major league organization for 2015, and that began on Sunday as he made his Dominican Winter League debut.
Dominican Winter League: Aguilas Cibaenas 7, Tigres del Licey 5
All three Rays-related position players in this game were able to make an impact. Manny Ramirez is the biggest name but had the worst day, going 1 for 4 with a double and 2 RBI for Cibaenas. Meanwhile, his teammate Derek Dietrich went 2 for 4 with 2 triples, 3 RBI, and a run scored while Jose Ruiz went 3 for 4 with a triple, a double, and a run scored for Licey. For Ruiz, this was just his third start since November 29th and he did a nice job taking advantage.
On the pitching side, Juan Carlos Oviedo appeared for the Aguilas and tossed a perfect inning, striking out 1. His Cibaenas debut was quite different than his Rays debut on April 24th, when he did toss 1.1 innings, but needed to work around a hit and 2 walks to do so. Oviedo didn’t pitch after the Rays released him on August 3rd, but coming back the second time will be much easier than the first.
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Estrellas de Oriente 10, Gigantes del Cibao 3
Speaking of debuts, Victor Mateo had a nice first game for Oriente, also tossing a scoreless inning with a strikeout. Mateo is from the Dominican Republic, but he pitched in the Roberto Clemente Professional Baseball League in Puerto Rico last season and also began 2014 in the Venezuelan Winter League. The reason was simple: he wanted to start games, and those were the places where he received opportunities. But it has to be nice for him to return home, and he’ll hope to pitch well enough to be starting for Oriente before long.
Mexican Pacific League: Venados de Mazatlán 4, Naranjeros de Hermosillo 1
Olmo Rosario sure looked like a Rays-related player in this one as he played both second base and left field for Mazatlán. He also went 1 for 3 with a sac fly, extending his hitting streak to 6 games. Adan Munoz also appeared for Hermosillo, going 1 for 4.
Venezuelan Winter League: Caribes de Anzoátegui 9, Leones del Caracas 3
Henry Rodriguez was able to do something in the Caracas loss, drilling a solo home run. He now has 3 homers and 12 RBI in his last 10 games, but he is on quite a strange hot streak. Even though he has shown great plate discipline on the season, managing a 17-14 strikeout to walk ratio, he has a .277/.280/.511 line in his last 10 games. He’s hitting well, but he forgot how to walk!
Navegantes del Magallanes 7, Tigres de Aragua 0
I’m still not going to admit that Juan Apodaca should be hitting like this even in the Venezuelan Winter League, but he’s playing out of his mind right now. In this game, he went 3 for 3 with 2 doubles, a walk, 3 RBI, and a run scored, and he now has a .382/.432/.471 line with 10 RBI in his last 10 games. He also threw out the only baserunner that tried to steal against him.
Apodaca sent 2014 at Independent Lancaster and also started 2013 at Indy ball before catching on with the Durham Bulls. However, he’s still just 28 years old, and if some team believes that he has broken through, they may just invite him to big league camp.