Even though the new baseball season has been already started in Sancti Spiritus, the recently concluded championship and the poor performance of the Roosters are still fresh in the mind of local residents. The controversy burst with the triumph of Ciego de Avila’s Tigers, a team that had very much alike problems. The Roosters’ captain, Yulieski Gourriel accepts the challenge and talks on behalf of the rest of the team members.
How this designation came out?
I must say that I feel proud to have been chosen, like all the others who were. There were many good performance third base-men in this season. Being chosen for the All Star Team is the result of the training I had both in the national team and in Sancti Spiritus’s.
Don’t you think that the Roosters’ final outcome darkens your appointment a little bit?
In don’t think so. We always play in order to win. It’s just that things didn’t come out well.
Once again you didn’t perform as expected during the playoffs, what’s wrong with you?
There is nothing wrong. I always train myself the same way. Sometimes things don’t come out the way we expect. I always play to help my squad. It is my desire to always move forward, to never back off, and to do by best for the sake of my team.
Do you get under pressure like the rest of the squad members?
I don’t think it is a pressure issue. We have already participated in several playoffs. If there is pressure, each player knows how to deal with it. They are short-term tournaments. Baseball must be well played in every aspect, and all factors must be combined. And a little luck is also needed.
Some people think that you have behaved as if the defeat was somebody else’s, and that the athletes don’t face the consequences.
I believe that the victory and the defeat are both ours. We lost the same way we had lost before, the same way other teams lost. I have always faced the consequences; there is no reason why I shouldn’t do so. I have accepted all the criticism.
Is it that you got used to lose?
It is not so. It was just that this year we couldn’t win either. Now, we must keep on with the training, and learn from the mistakes. In the next season, I will play again for our goal of winning the championship.
And ten years have not been enough time to learn from those mistakes?
It is never enough. Ciego de Avila hadn’t win before, this time they did. I think we will be winners sometime as well.
When? After ten more years?
We never know. Every team has had its moment. We must never lose hope.
Have you heard the opinions about the team, and about you?
Of course I have. People always talk, and when we lose we become the worse enemy. Now I’m only focused on my job, on what I have to do.
Many people talk of the need of mass retirement in the team.
Those who follow the Roosters know that the team has been winner since 2002; they have always classified, and it was not that way before. This has been one of the best seasons of baseball in Sancti Spiritus. Not getting the victory is something else.
Some people think that you don’t do your best as team captain.
I try to do my job the best I can. We do hold the talks, I give support to the players when needed, but I do the job my way. I have my own personality. I don’t behave like others who are spicier when playing. It is the other team members who appoint me captain.
What about your future participation in international matches?
First, I pursue to be included in the Cuba team. The 2013 Classic is the main goal. We must keep on with the training. There are new things. Many international matches are being arranged, especially with Asian teams, which is very important in order to work on how to handle their pitching, which is something difficult for us. If all these projects come true, we will be better prepared.
But the inclusion of Yulieski Gourriel in the All Star Team is not the number one piece of news in Sancti Spiritus and in Cuba at the moment. So, it is impossible not to tackle the subject. Is it true that the Gourriel family is moving out to Havana? What about your father’s health condition?
Yes, we have heard about that, but we haven’t considered the possibility of moving to Havana, for the moment. My father suffered from a slow long illness, but he has followed the treatment properly and he’s much better now. Nevertheless, since he must get frequent checkups, he has to travel to Havana from time to time. We know that people comment on the possibility of me playing here or there. At the moment, the family is only thinking about my Dad’s health condition which, fortunately, is satisfactory.
Translated by Escambray.