Catcher takes helm of Ciego de Avila baseball team
Roger Machado Morales, the central Cuban province of Ciego de Avilas best all-time catcher, will now take on his lifes greatest challenge as manager of the team.
The news came as a surprise to nearly everyone. Machado, several times a member of the Cuban national team, will guide the Ciego de Avila Tigers. He becomes one of the few Cuban players to virtually take off his players uniform and take on the helm of a team.
Machado earned his fame as a player as one of Cubas best defensive catchers. He now becomes the seventh manager that has guided Ciego de Avila.
As the captain of the Tigers for many seasons you were unable to transmit your tenacious play to the rest of the team. Will you be able to do so as the manager?
I did what I could as captain to get the team to play hard. Some did and others didnt. However, Im sure that this year I will achieve it, with the help of the coaching staff and the athletes, giving their all on the field.
What was it like to be on the Cuban National Team but not as a starter?
Every player wants to go out on the field and play but I rarely had that privilege. Nonetheless, it was still beneficial to be on the bench. From there I was able to carefully study each player, the coaches and understand the decisions made in key moments.
Will it be helpful or a disadvantage to have played for more than a decade with many of the players you will now be leading?
I dont think it will be disadvantageous; to the contrary. I know them all and I know what each can do. I will make my demands accordingly.
Could friendships become a two-edged sword?
We are all players on the same team and some of them are personal friends. Those friends will not betray me and Ill only ask that they give their best. I think I can be demanding because they have showed me respect since my days as an athlete.
Ciego de Avila usually qualifies for post-season play relatively easily but then falls apart in the playoffs. What philosophy will you employ to try to erase the teams bad image in recent years?
A philosophy of discipline, tactical play, excitement and bravery; defending the colors of the province and giving the local fans the type of performance they expect from us.
The all-time best generation of Ciego de Avila players nears the end of their careers. Will they leave without glory?
Winning depends on us, on everyone making it their goal. Its true that the fans expect more from this generation of players that I dont think are finished, but we have to be aware that we must make a big effort to reach the finals. We tell our fans to rest assured that we will give our best.
Are the provincial authorities demanding a certain result for next season?
No, and they have no reason to. I dont think it would be wise.
Are you optimistic?
So, are the Tigers going to show their claws?
You can count on it. Who doesnt give their best will be on the bench. As manager, I will be very demanding of effort. I am well aware that it is the athletes that make the game exciting.
Among the best defensive catchers in Cuban baseball with 2,500 innings, you are in first place tied with Ariel Pestano with a .998 fielding average; in throwing out runners attempting to steal, you have 58 percent and Pestano 56 percent.
I wasnt aware of those stats, but I do know that he [Pestano] is better offensively. Thats why I had few opportunities [on the national team] although I think I could have been given more chances. As far as the talk that there has been a rivalry between us, I can tell you that we have been good friends both during the Cuban Baseball League and on the national team. To me it will be an honor to be able to tell my children and grandchildren that in my time as an active player I was Cubas second best catcher since the revolution.
You are going from being an experienced player to an inexperienced manager. Isnt the change a bit rushed?
Its difficult, but not rushed.
Source: By Ortelio González Martínez, Granma