SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic -- The Major League Baseball Players Association has forbid a trio of stars from participating in the Caribbean Series' inaugural Home Run Derby after it had been announced that David Ortiz, Robinson Cano and Miguel Cabrera would compete.
The organizers of the 2016 Caribbean Series had the idea of including a Home Run Derby on the third day of the tournament as a way to enhance the show, and fans were already rubbing their hands with the announcement that Ortiz, Cano and Cabrera would participate in the event.
But on the first day of the competition, the MLBPA put a stop to the trio's participation for fear of injury.
"Unfortunately, the people in charge of the event didn't follow the necessary protocol to ensure that any major leaguers participating in an event like that one is protected from a possible injury," said Tony Clark, MLBPA's executive director. "As a result, in order to protect the rights and interests of the players invited to compete, we were forced to advise those players and their representatives that participating in the event was not in their best interests."
According to the organizing committee, the MLBPA said it would need a financial guarantee to allow Ortiz, Cano and Cabrera to participate, and the request for their participation had to be made no later than Jan. 1.
The committee nonetheless decided to keep the derby on Wednesday, in the middle of the day's two games, but now with different participants.
Among the players who agreed to try to conquer the fences of Estadio Quisqueya Juan Marichal in Santo Domingo were Alfredo Despaigne and Yosvani Alarcon of Cuba's Tigres de Ciego de Avila; Felix Perez, a Cuban playing for Venezuela's Tigres de Aragua; Cyle Hankerd, of Mexico's Venados de Mazatlán; Minnesota Twins designated hitter Kennys Vargas, who plays for Puerto Rico's Cangrejeros de Santurce; and retired Dominican slugger Vladimir Guerrero.
Strangely, the players' union allowed the participation of Vargas, who like Cabrera, Cano and Ortiz is a big leaguer, albeit with a substantially smaller salary of $517,500.