El lanzador boricua Nelson Figueroa esta mañana hizo unas declaraciones acerca de su estatus en las ligas invernales mediante un documento publicado en su cuenta de Twitter llamado "For the Love of the Game".
"For the Love of the Game" Nelson Figueroa(@Nfiggie)
Okay so where were we? Since the WBC and being part of that amazing Puerto Rico team that shocked the world a lot has happened. My first month of this season never really started… lets just leave it at that. Reno was not meant to be and the dream come true to be with the Dbacks and have my career come full circle 13 years later was derailed by the nightmare of arthritis. Had an MRI on my hip which i had come to terms with just being tight and achy and stiff due to being almost 39. The results showed no tears no strain just good old fashioned arthritis and inflammation. One cortisone shot later and little over a month of rehabbing with my friends at the Foothills rehabilitation clinic and the young old Figgie was back. Only one problem, who wants a 38 year old right handed pitcher with an arthritic hip? Thats right no one. Except my prayers were answered by a phone call from an old friend Jerry Sung and the Uni-President Lions. They decided whatever i brought to the table physically was not the only reason to make me a nice offer. Its the other things a veteran brings to a team of young players. Its the things that can’t be seen on the field, can’t be timed with a stopwatch, nor measured with a radar gun. In one word HOPE. Hope makes 25 men believe the impossible is possible. Its what takes all the blood, sweat, and tears and turns them into sweet champagne when its all said and done. This part of the story is for another time but lets just say it will be worth the wait.
I need to get off my chest the reasons why I am not going to winterball this year. Anyone who knows anything about me knows how much I LOVE, RESPECT, and HONOR, Caribbean Baseball. I had no idea in back 1999 that 14 years later I would be longing and fighting to go back and people, no, cities, no, COUNTRIES would want to see Nelson Figueroa getting hitters out and helping another generation to Believe... But that has come to an end this year and its ironically over my “rights” that prove we truly have no rights as baseball players, and would love to thank the Puerto Rican Winter League for that. Its about the last 7 years of my career going down to winterball and becoming more than Nelson Figueroa could ever be in the United States. Its about what the people say about you and how they either love you or love to hate you. Either way to have a whole country feel someway about you is an amazing accomplishment. I’ve been given many names around the world, “Cometigre”, “Papa de Licey”, “Cepillin”, “Figgie”, Guerrero, Fajador, Viejo. But the one that will remain most special is CAMPEON… I have and always will give back 10 times more than I’m given, in respect and love. Tonight is when its being tested.
Alex Cora thank you for trying to do the right thing and giving a veteran ballplayer the “right” to play where he has for the last 7 years and to play out his career on his own terms. I will always have great respect for that. Alex decided that the Puerto Rican Winter League wouldn’t allow me to just leave and that it was best to release me and see if i could clear waivers. All other teams let me pass but one. The first place team Mayaguez Indios thought if they offered me the same amount of money and perks that I have both EARNED and grown accustomed to in the Dominican with the Leones de Escogido, that I would take the deal and just pitch. But as I told them I gave Alex my word that if i was claimed, I would not pitch for anyone else in the Puerto Rican Winter League under any circumstances. Sometimes its not about the money. Sometimes its about your word being priceless. So since the Indios will not let me play for Escogido, I now will make no money this winter for my family and have no shot at becoming Threepeat Champions with the team that has known and loved me and my family for the last 4 years. This combined with the fact that I was blindsided by Frankie Higginbotham on two occasions in the past two seasons in Puerto Rico. In 2011, I went to pitch for Caguas and was there in Puerto Rico without a job for the upcoming season in the United States. Was told there were many scouts and fans coming to games and after 2 weeks 3 starts not one scout was present at the games I informed my agent that I needed to go to the Dominican and be seen. Frankie made the trade and 2 weeks later I was playing with Escogido and given an opportunity with the Toronto Bluejays on a minor league deal with a big league invite. But never received my December salary of which i was with Caguas until the 12th of December. That money has never been found… Fast Forward to 2012 Junior Noboa and Escogido work out a deal with Frankie Higginbotham and the Puerto Rico Winter League and my 4th team in the last 3 years the Atenienses de Manati. I put my signature on a piece of paper saying that I would not seek monies owed to me by the Puerto Rican Winter League or anyone else involved. For which I would be given my rights to play with Escogido. The Puerto Rico Winter League sends over an EMAIL that is copied to several people none of whom are named NELSON FIGUEROA the player. In which I am given the “right” to play with Los Leones de Escogido. But only for the 2012-2013 season. I am not allowed to return to the Atenienses de Manati until the following season, even if Escogido is knocked out of the playoffs. And third as per this transaction the player (thats me) can not participate in the Caribbean Series. Not with Dominican. Not with Puerto Rico. No specific date or location, just that I cannot compete in the greatest event there is. A tournament of Champions from every league that play to see who is the best of the best. Also a chance to pitch and be recognized as the best right handed pitcher of the tournament. GONE!!! Taken away without my knowledge or consent and never even mentioned nor discussed with me the player. Someone who has played professional baseball for 17 years at this point and now being deceived and tricked by my “own” people. Losing out on the opportunity to earn almost 10 days of salary and championship bonuses and performance bonuses and again more money for my family. Again thank you Mr. Higginbotham for making me more aware of instead of taking the time to smell the roses, to first check for snakes in the grass and to check your shoes afterwards because never know what you may step in.
Good Luck to the Criollos de Caguas and the Indios de Mayaguez in their quest for a championship. To Los Leones de Escogido, I’m sorry I cannot be with you in your fight for a third championship in a row, more than anything I wanted to be there. But thanks to the Puerto Rican Winter League I have no rights anymore. And since I AM A MAN OF MY WORD, I’ll be enjoying some downtime with my family and friends and celebrating the holidays and preparing for whatever dreams may come next…