Yahoo! June 6, 2001
Red Sox Draft Rolando Viera
By Jimmy Golen, Ap Sports Writer
BOSTON, 5 (AP) - Cuban pitcher Rolando Viera, who sued major league baseball
in an attempt to avoid its draft, was selected in the seventh round by the
Boston Red Sox on Tuesday.
"It was a gamble for us,'' Red Sox spokesman Kevin Shea said. "We've
already been in touch with his agent. We're looking forward to sitting down and
talking to him.''
Cuban ballplayers seeking to join the major leagues typically defect to a
third country, which makes them a free agent and allows them to sign with the
highest bidder. But Viera left Cuba with a valid visa on April 25 and came
straight to the United States.
According to baseball rules, that made him a U.S. resident subject to the
draft. Viera sought a restraining order that would keep him out of the draft,
but his request was denied Monday by a judge who said being drafted would not
cause him irreparable harm.
Viera's lawyer has said he will appeal the decision. Judge James Whittemore
said Viera still had the option of suing baseball to prove it treats Cuban
"Although we intend to proceed with our case against major league
baseball, I am looking forward to speaking with the Red Sox about Rolando,''
said his agent, Joe Kehoskie. "As I told the Red Sox, ... our issue is
entirely with major league baseball and not with the team, and we will work hard
to keep those issues separate.''
In Cuba, Viera pitched for Industriales, compiling an 18-10 record with 3.12
ERA in his last two seasons. In his last full season, 1999-00, he was 8-6 with a
3.16 ERA, striking out 54 and walking 28 in 88.1 innings.
"Rolando was excited to learn the Red Sox had drafted him, especially
after learning Boston has only one major league left-handed pitcher at the
moment,'' Kehoskie said. "Rolando looks forward to throwing for Boston
scouts, coaches and executives very soon.''
Viera was suspended for the 2000-01 season because Cuban officials suspected
he wanted to defect.
Red Sox head scout Wayne Britton said he knew little about Viera.
"He's left-handed to start with, with a winning record,'' Britton said
before Tuesday night's game against the Detroit Tigers. "That's a pretty
In Cuba, Viera was a teammate of pitcher Adrian "El Duquecito''
Hernandez, who left last year and signed with the New York Yankees. Orlando "El
Duque'' Hernandez, who pitches for the Yankees, also played for Industriales
before leaving Cuba in December 1997.
The Red Sox, who lost the rights to their first-round pick
when they signed Manny Ramirez as a free agent, picked Baylor
catcher Kelly Shoppach with their first choice, 48th overall.