12/3 Postcard from La Romana
Cubs catcher Welington Castillo had a large contingent of fans cheering him on in La Romana Thursday night. A group of fans on a week-long trip to the Dominican Republic arranged to go to the Winter League game between the home Toros and Licey. Castillo and another Cubs player, outfielder Brad Snyder, play for Licey, as does ex Cubs infielder/catcher/outfielder Jake Fox.
Games in the D.R. are not boring. There are drums, trumpets, cowbells, thundersticks and loud music — and that’s during the game. Fans wave flags and recognize good plays — a double play to end an inning is cheered as if it’s a key out in a playoff game.
On Thursday, Castillo had one more distraction. A hot air balloon was being inflated behind the left field fence during his first at-bat. It seemed as if they were timing it to light the flame and illuminate the balloon just as the pitcher was preparing to throw to Castillo, but they kept doing it during the Toros’ players at-bats as well.
Fox hit two home runs — or jonrones — on Tuesday for Licey. He was not as successful on Thursday, although he did hit a fly ball to the gap in left which was caught. If you want to follow Licey, or just get a peek into baseball in the D.R., check out trainer Chris McDonald’s blog. He works for the Tigers’ Double-A team during the regular season in the U.S., and this is his seventh year in the D.R., sixth with Licey.
— Carrie Muskat