The second half of the Major League Baseball season began Thursday night, and many in Puerto Rico are with a lot of high expectations.
Just as a start, everybody is happy that Carlos Beltrán returned with the New York Mets, and Joel Piñeiro won his seventh straight decision as the Los Angeles Angels defeated the Seattle Mariners.
However, not every baseball fan is cheery and festive these days.
Carlos Delgado announced Thursday that he will not be able to participate with the Puerto Rico national baseball team in the upcoming Central American and Caribbean Games in Mayagüez because of a recommendation from his doctor.
Delgado, who had shown interest in playing for the national team at Mayagüez 2010, is still recovering from surgery on his right hip.
Delgado, the all-time leader among Puerto Rican players in the majors with 473 home runs and 1,512 runs batted in, was on the national team’s provisional roster for several weeks but said his final decision would depend on his physical condition.
It is true that the two-time All-Star and three-time Silver Slugger Award winner had not played in a Major League game since May 10, 2009, but he lost a golden opportunity.
The games would have been his showcase to show that he is still functional and could still play at a competitive level.
Absolutely the 37-year-old first baseman would have to be careful, nevertheless Team Puerto Rico would have benefited from his presence.
Let not forget Delgado, even though elbow tendinitis limited him to just one plate appearance in the inaugural 2006 World Baseball Classic.
Delgado not only did spin doubts on his possible return to the majors, but also a sour spin on what could have been a boon for Puerto Rican national pride.
Team Puerto Rico is the favorite team to win the gold medal in his own backyard in this regional games.
Last time Team Puerto Rico won gold was in the El Salvador Games in 2002 and was its last medal in the Central American and Caribbean games baseball diamond, only their second gold in the history of these games. First one was way back in 1959 in Venezuela.
Furthermore, last time the games were celebrated in the U.S. Commonwealth Island, Ponce 93’, Team Puerto Rico was shorthanded with a bronze medal.
Manager Eduardo Pérez, former Major Leaguer and son of Hall of Famer Tony Pérez, found a replacement for Delgado in the lineup with power hitter Joyset Feliciano, one of the top hitters in island Double‑A baseball. (A semi-pro league with good local talent.)
True, any player in given time is replaceable. However, Delgado is considered one of Puerto Rico’s top sports heroes and should have shown his country passion as in past World Baseball Classic, and show he was ready to play ball again.
It was his moment to demonstrate to any team that no matter how he had been more than a year away he could be back to the Major Leagues.
It could possibly have shown as it has been a rumor for a long time regarding his return to his beloved New York Mets.
Fellow Puerto Rican Carlos Beltrán is back.
Is the other Carlos ready?
Time will tell.