Inside the Neighborhood, Outside the Heart

barrioadentroenrejado

Barrio Adentro Clinic in Venezuela -- Image taken from: http://paulagiraud.blogspot.com/

“You must turn in your passport!” So they told him on arriving in Caracas, to prevent him from making it to the border and deserting. In the same airport they read him the rules: “You cannot say that you are Cuban, you can’t walk down the street in your medical clothes, and it’s best to avoid interacting with Venezuelans.” Days later he understood that his mission was a political one, because more than curing some heart problem or lung infection, he was supposed to examine consciences, probe voting intentions.

In Venezuela he also came across the corruption of some of those leading the Barrio Adentro Project.  The “shrewd ones” here become the “scoundrels” there, grabbing power, influence, money, and even pressuring the female doctors and nurses who travel alone to become their concubines. They placed him together with six colleagues in a cramped room and warned them that if they were to die — victims of all the violence out there — they would be listed as deserters. But it didn’t depress him. At the end of the day he was only 28 and this was his first time escaping from parental protection, the extreme apathy of his neighborhood, and the shortages in the hospital where he worked.

A month after arriving, they gave him an identity card, telling him that with it he could vote in the upcoming elections. At a quick meeting someone spoke about the hard blow it would be to Cuba to lose such an important ally in Latin America. “You are soldiers of the fatherland,” they shouted at them, and as such, “you must guarantee that the red tide prevails at the polls.”

The days when he thought he would save lives or relieve suffering are long gone. He just wants to go home, return to the protection of his family, tell his friends the truth, but for now he can’t. Beforehand, he must stand in line at the polls, show his support for the Venezuelan Socialist Party, hit the screen with his thumb as a sign of agreement. He counts the days until the last Sunday in September, thinking that after that he can go home.

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22 thoughts on “Inside the Neighborhood, Outside the Heart

  1. Note:
    It is alright to break the laws if there is a “justification”
    In this case … is the effect that the voting priviledge of a citizen is violated in order to “kee[ the red tide” going”
    What type of freedom is that?

  2. IF “THE MUMMY” & “LA CHINA” WONT LET YOANI ATTEND THIS HONOR, THEY ARE IN BIGGG TROUBLE! HECK, THEY ARE IN BIG TROUBLE WITH THE WORLD ANYWAY! MAKE YOANI’S DAY!!

    LA FLACA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    “Sanchez?s tremendously important work provides a glimpse into what is otherwise a closed world,” Alison Bethel McKenzie, director of the Vienna-based International Press Institute, said in a statement.
    She “represents a future where the power of the Internet can be harnessed to promote free speech.”

    AFP:Cuban bloger Sanchez named IPI press freedom hero

    VIENNA — Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez was named World Press Freedom Hero by media watchdog IPI on Friday, for her defiance of press restrictions and her commitment to free speech in her country.

    “Sanchez?s tremendously important work provides a glimpse into what is otherwise a closed world,” Alison Bethel McKenzie, director of the Vienna-based International Press Institute, said in a statement.

    She “represents a future where the power of the Internet can be harnessed to promote free speech.”

    Sanchez began a blog, Generation Y, in 2007 that now counts over one million readers. However, access to the site was banned in Cuba in 2008.

    To bypass this, Sanchez now emails her comments to friends abroad who post her notes on the Internet.

    In 2008, Time Magazine in the United States named her one of the 100 most influential people. The following year, her blog was listed as one of the 25 best blogs of the year by the magazine.

    Harassed and beaten up on separate occasions, Sanchez has noted on her blog that she is constantly watched by state security agents.

    But she refuses to stop writing: “If you are insulted by the mediocre, the opportunists, if you are slandered by the employees of the powerful but dying machinery, take it as a compliment,” she wrote.

    IPI named this year eight World Press Freedom Heroes, from Sri Lanka and Gambia to Turkey and South Africa, bringing the total to 60 as it celebrates its 60th anniversary.

    The institute holds its annual world congress in Vienna and Bratislava on September 11-14.

    http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gX4avzqlI6xXO0wrJIEBI-9dLwMg

    GO FLACA!
    http://chir.ps/7cW

  3. LA FLACA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    “Sanchez?s tremendously important work provides a glimpse into what is otherwise a closed world,” Alison Bethel McKenzie, director of the Vienna-based International Press Institute, said in a statement.
    She “represents a future where the power of the Internet can be harnessed to promote free speech.”

    AFP:Cuban bloger Sanchez named IPI press freedom hero

    VIENNA — Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez was named World Press Freedom Hero by media watchdog IPI on Friday, for her defiance of press restrictions and her commitment to free speech in her country.

    “Sanchez?s tremendously important work provides a glimpse into what is otherwise a closed world,” Alison Bethel McKenzie, director of the Vienna-based International Press Institute, said in a statement.

    She “represents a future where the power of the Internet can be harnessed to promote free speech.”

    Sanchez began a blog, Generation Y, in 2007 that now counts over one million readers. However, access to the site was banned in Cuba in 2008.

    To bypass this, Sanchez now emails her comments to friends abroad who post her notes on the Internet.

    In 2008, Time Magazine in the United States named her one of the 100 most influential people. The following year, her blog was listed as one of the 25 best blogs of the year by the magazine.

    Harassed and beaten up on separate occasions, Sanchez has noted on her blog that she is constantly watched by state security agents.

    But she refuses to stop writing: “If you are insulted by the mediocre, the opportunists, if you are slandered by the employees of the powerful but dying machinery, take it as a compliment,” she wrote.

    IPI named this year eight World Press Freedom Heroes, from Sri Lanka and Gambia to Turkey and South Africa, bringing the total to 60 as it celebrates its 60th anniversary.

    The institute holds its annual world congress in Vienna and Bratislava on September 11-14.

    http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gX4avzqlI6xXO0wrJIEBI-9dLwMg

    GO FLACA!
    http://chir.ps/7cW

  4. This is to Mr. “bullshit himself”, you say not to mess up the “good name of Cuba ha ha ha ha, what a retard you are, ha ha ha, IDIOT, WHAT GOOD NAME could a COMMUNIST country have, NONE, thats what kind of name. Yoani is NOT immoral, she says it like it is and idiots like you can’t take it, she is exercising her freedom of speech even in a communist country that does not respect such freedoms, how dare you.

  5. HUFFIGNTON POST: Scourge of the Castros: Cuba’s Ladies Courageous -Thor Halvorssen-September 2, 2010 11:19 AM

    HAVANA, CUBA — This coming Sunday a group of women, dressed in white and holding flowers, will walk quietly down the Quinta Avenida — Fifth Avenue. They have done this every Sunday for the past seven years. Even during inclement weather and hurricane season, these unlikely demonstrators march, advocating for the release of innocent men held in Cuban government prisons. The Ladies in White, or “Las Damas de Blanco,” is a group of wives, daughters, sisters, and mothers of political prisoners arrested in Cuba’s “Black Spring,” a government crackdown on dissent that took place March 18-20, 2003. Seventy-five independent journalists, librarians, and democracy and human rights activists were arrested and sentenced — some to as many as 28 years in prison.
    Last month, the Catholic Archdiocese of Cuba announced that it had brokered a deal with the Cuban government and some of the prisoners would be freed. At the time, 52 Black Spring prisoners remained in jail and were to be freed over the course of the coming months. Their release is a concession to unprecedented pressure on the Cuban government following a flurry of public relations disasters: first, the death of hunger striker Orlando Zapata Tamayo; then the ensuing hunger strike of Guillermo Fariñas; and lastly the globally-publicized attacks on dissenters including world-renowned blogger Yoani Sánchez.

    But their liberation is unquestionably a result of the non-violent action of the Ladies in White. Their peaceful protest has garnered worldwide attention and exposed the cruelty behind Cuba’s carefully crafted international facade. “The whole world is awakening and removing its blindfold with regards to Cuba,” says Laura Pollán who leads them. Pollán is resolute in how critical things are at this moment in Cuba and she emphasizes how important it is that nobody looks away.

    In a documentary short filmed recently in Havana and released today by the Human Rights Foundation, the Ladies in White state that they will march, every single Sunday, until all of the Black Spring prisoners are free. “We will never give up,” says Pollán.

    The slow trickle of prisoners being released, however, is not a pardon, and is by no means, unconditional. Of the 26 prisoners freed since July, all have been banished to Spain, and one prisoner was exiled to the United States to receive medical treatment.

    Although release from Cuba’s notorious prisons is cause for celebration, especially for these innocent men and their families, it is not a sign that things are improving in Cuba. It is only the next act in the regime’s cyclical and opportunistic show, by which every few years the dictatorial regime releases a few high-profile political prisoners in return for favorable editorials in the foreign media and praise from nostalgic “revolutionaries” around the world.

    Under Cuban law, writing anything critical of the government is a punishable offense. In some cases it takes less than that: many are locked away under an Orwellian criminal code, for their “potential” to commit a crime. The Black Spring survivors may be leaving Cuba, but as the totalitarian legal system remains unchanged, their prison cells can surely be used tomorrow by a new crop of innocent individuals — without trial and without ever having committed a crime.

    The Black Spring prisoners are still criminals in the eyes of the Cuban government — criticism of the Castro regime remains an unforgivable, treasonous offense. Their exile does not exonerate them, and were they given the chance to remain in Cuba, they would continue to be harassed and face further persecution from the government and its supporters.

    At least 5 of the prisoners have refused exile from Cuba. They will accept nothing less than an unconditional release. They are willing to sacrifice their freedom and remain imprisoned to draw attention to the dire human rights situation there.

    Just as the Ladies in White are an inspiring reminder of the peaceful struggle of dissidents in Cuba — and the gains that can be made from persistence and audacity — so, too, should the world be as equally determined to pressure Cuba toward a real transition to democracy, and respect for human rights. To achieve this requires far more than freeing space in Castro’s gulag to make room for other innocent individuals.

    The freedom granted to those who should have never had it robbed from them is a welcome step. But the heart of the problem remains: the Castro brothers’ tyranny is no different and international actors mustn’t be fooled into believing that Raúl is any less of a despot than Fidel. He has inherited his brother’s house of tyranny, and has changed nothing but the window dressing. And the curtains aren’t white. They’re red.

    Thor Halvorssen is President if the New York-based Human Rights Foundation and founder of the Oslo Freedom Forum. The HRF video featuring the Ladies in White can be seen here.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/thor-halvorssen/scourge-of-the-castros-cu_b_703708.html

  6. YOU SAY: “A month after arriving, they gave him an identity card, telling him that with it he could vote in the upcoming elections.”

    I SAY: You are a shameless liar! Now you have had your 15 minutes of fame and think you’re a big shot, you keep your gullible readers entertained with your extremely fertile imagination. Cubans cannot vote in Venezuelan elections. Period. You just made it up to blacken the good name of Cuba. What a disgusting immoral individual you are.

  7. Yoani,

    I live in Venezuela. I am a bit skeptical about the Cubans voting. As “trampas” go, it is a bit obvious. Not that I give Chavismo much credit for subtlety, but this one seem just too obvious, and would further piss off “el pueblo”.

    However, assuming it is not just a barracks rumor, tell your friend to go ahead and vote… for the opposition candidates. As long as there are witnesses, they will have to give them privacy, just as all the Venezuelans are entitled to. Vote the ballot and put it in the box. No one will know who they voted for.

    Why should they?

    1. It will be the first time they have ever had the opportunity to vote against Castro’s wishes. That alone should be enough of a reason.

    2. It will help (ultimately) defeat Chavez.

    3. Depriving Castro of Chavez and his financial support will help bring about change in Cuba sooner than otherwise.

    Thanks,

  8. HE IS A “RED” BUT HE IS NOT A COMMUNIST! THAT IS WHY HE IS HERE IN THE U.S.A! BUT HE IS HEADING TO N.Y. AS SOON AS HIS CONTRACT IS UP! THEN HE CAN BUY BACK CUBA FROM FIDEL! LET’S HOPE SO!

    NY TIMES: Cincinnati Reds’ CUBAN Rookie Keeps All Eyes on Radar Gun-By TYLER KEPNER-September 1, 2010

    Craig Counsell sat back in his chair in the Milwaukee Brewers’ clubhouse Wednesday and spit a stream of tobacco juice into a paper cup. He may not be strictly old school — he was fiddling with an iPad at the time — but at 40, Counsell is a long way from the overachieving 11th-round draft pick he used to be. He is a ballplayer; this is what he does.

    So it was not remarkable at all to Counsell that he connected in fair territory Tuesday with a fastball traveling 102.7 miles an hour from the Cincinnati Reds rookie left-hander Aroldis Chapman. Never mind that no pitcher in the majors has thrown a faster pitch in the last three seasons, or that hitting a baseball is said to be the hardest feat in sports.

    “I get paid to do this,” Counsell said, laughing and adding later: “I would have been impressed if I’d gotten a hit. But I grounded out weakly to shortstop.”

    Counsell saw two of the eight pitches thrown by Chapman in his laser show of a major league debut at Great American Ball Park. He swung and missed at the first one, which registered 100.3 m.p.h. He tapped the next to the Reds’ Paul Janish.

    The 102.7 m.p.h. on that pitch — it was rounded to 103 on the TV broadcast — was the fastest this year and matched two pitches by Detroit’s Joel Zumaya in 2009 for the fastest since 2008.

    Seven other pitches in those seasons, including one by the Mets’ Bobby Parnell last month, have registered 102.5 m.p.h. or higher. Three were swinging strikes, two were fouls and two were balls. Counsell is the only hitter to put one in play.

    “The hitters in the major leagues are good enough to make adjustments to anything,” he said. “That doesn’t mean they’re going to have a lot of success, but if he’s throwing 103 and it’s down the middle, there’s guys that are going to hit it, and guys that are going to hit it hard. But any velocity is an advantage. That’s why scouts draft the hard-throwing kids.”

    Chapman, who signed a six-year, $30.25 million contract in January after defecting from Cuba, will be a starter next spring, said Walt Jocketty, the Reds’ general manager. But the National League Central-leading Reds have been grooming him as a reliever for the stretch drive, and he fanned 49 in his final 30 innings for Class AAA Louisville. He worked a 1-2-3 inning Tuesday, with one strikeout.

    “The sky’s the limit with this guy,” Jocketty said. “He’s got that fastball, but the slider’s nasty.”

    The fastball, though, is what distinguishes Chapman, who hit 105 on a radar gun in the minors. His new teammates can hardly believe it.

    “It’s just ridiculous,” the veteran closer Francisco Cordero said. “He’s not pushing hard to throw 100. It’s just so easy.”

    Dusty Baker, the Reds’ manager, knows the effect late-season call-ups can have in October. As manager of the San Francisco Giants in 2002, he lost the World Series to the Angels and their dynamic rookie setup man, Francisco Rodriguez. Six years later, the Tampa Bay Rays used a hard-throwing rookie, David Price, to close the championship series.

    Counsell, who has won the World Series twice, agreed that Chapman could be a difference maker this postseason. If a hard fastball is 95, Chapman’s heat is extraordinary.

    “It doesn’t mean that he’s not going to give up hits, but 103 to 95 is 8 miles an hour,” Counsell said. “And 87 to 95 is a big difference, too. So he’s taking it to a level that’s different, and really, we haven’t seen in a while.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/02/sports/baseball/02kepner.html

  9. HUMAN RIGHTS FOUNDATION: Cuba Video: The “Ladies in White” Steadfast Until Every Political Prisoner is Free-

    NEW YORK (September 1, 2010) – In order to provide an accurate backdrop with regard to the announcement of the Cuban government’s release and forced exile of 52 political prisoners, the Human Rights Foundation (HRF) releases an exclusive video documentary short of the “Ladies in White,” a civil society group inside Cuba that organizes peaceful Sunday marches for freedom and human rights.

    The world-renowned group is formed by the wives, mothers, sisters, daughters, and supporters of political prisoners who were arrested during the “Black Spring” government crackdown on Cuban dissidents. During the four-day period that occurred in March 2003, 75 independent journalists, librarians, and democracy and human rights advocates were arrested and ultimately convicted with sentences ranging from 6 to 28 years.

    Currently, 26 of the prisoners have been released and exiled to Spain, while another prisoner was released to the United States for medical treatment. At least five of the prisoners have refused to accept exile, meaning they choose to remain in prison unless they are granted unconditional release and allowed to stay in Cuba.

    “The release of these innocent individuals is a welcome development and cause for celebration, but we must remember that the mechanism of repression remains firmly entrenched in Cuba. None of these arrests should ever have been made in the first place,” said Thor Halvorssen, president of HRF. “It should be made clear that their release does not indicate a reversal of conviction or pardon. These men are still considered treacherous criminals by the Cuban government. If they are allowed to stay in Cuba it shall be with the specter of certain and continuous political persecution and harassment,” he continued.

    The Ladies in White have declared that they will continue protesting every Sunday until all of the Black Spring prisoners have been released. In the video, Laura Pollan, spokeswoman for the Ladies in White, relates the history of how the group formed following the Black Spring and discusses recent events that have brought international attention to Cuba’s political prisoners.

    “The government states that there’s a lot of freedom in Cuba, that it’s a paradise,” said Pollan. “I’d invite those people who believe that Cuba is free to come and live here; to come and live here like a regular citizen, without bringing dollars; to come to work, and make what a regular worker makes; to come and live in a humble house, buy their food with a ration book, and express themselves here as much as they do in their own countries against their governments and other individuals, so that they see what the outcome is in Cuba,” she continued.

    The Cuban government has been under pressure to release its political prisoners following the February death of Orlando Zapata Tamayo, a political prisoner who went on a hunger strike to protest Cuba’s treatment of its prisoners. The death of Zapata prompted another dissident, Guillermo Fariñas, to launch his own hunger strike.

    “The whole world is awakening and removing its blindfold with regards to Cuba,” said Pollan.

    “The prisoners should be allowed to choose for themselves whether to remain in Cuba or leave the country. Those prisoners who have refused a forced exile are courageously willing to sacrifice their own freedom and stand up for freedom of expression for all,” said Halvorssen. “This is a powerful threat to a regime that has held power for 51 years and ruthlessly persecutes its opponents.”

    With the release of the 52 political prisoners, Cuba’s criminal code—which allows the “pre-emptive” arrest of an individual before committing any crime—remains unchanged, as do laws allowing for the arrest of anyone writing anything critical of the Cuban government.

    “The cyclical release of political prisoners in Cuba is usually followed by the arrest of more dissidents who have committed some kind of ‘thoughtcrime’ or who have done nothing but exercise their right to free speech. Further, there are still an untold number of political prisoners in Cuba’s jails, and Raúl Castro could simply replace these 52 prisoners with another crackdown on Cuba’s opposition voices tomorrow,” said Halvorssen. “Any significant reform involves more than window dressing to obtain European credits or editorial kudos from the foreign media. Why not a full transition to democracy and the respect of basic civil rights and civil liberties?” he added.

    In May 2010, HRF also released videos of former prisoner of conscience Armando Valladares and world-renowned blogger Yoani Sánchez in honor of Global Cuba Solidarity Day. The videos were filmed exclusively for the 2010 Oslo Freedom Forum and are now available on YouTube.

    HRF is an international nonpartisan organization devoted to defending human rights in the Americas. It centers its work on the twin concepts of freedom of self-determination and freedom from tyranny. These ideals include the belief that all human beings have the rights to speak freely, to associate with those of like mind, and to leave and enter their countries. Individuals in a free society must be accorded equal treatment and due process under law, and must have the opportunity to participate in the governments of their countries; HRF’s ideals likewise find expression in the conviction that all human beings have the right to be free from arbitrary detainment or exile and from interference and coercion in matters of conscience. HRF does not support nor condone violence. HRF’s International Council includes former prisoners of conscience Vladimir Bukovsky, Palden Gyatso, Václav Havel, Mutabar Tadjibaeva, Ramón J. Velásquez, Elie Wiesel, and Harry Wu.

    Contact: Thor Halvorssen, Human Rights Foundation, (212) 246.8486, info@thehrf.org

    http://www.humanrightsfoundation.org/media/09012010.html

    YOUTUVE VIDEO by Human Rights Foundation: Ladies In White – English/español http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4vWNAHLOzVk

    The Ladies in White, or “Las Damas de Blanco,” is a civil society group inside Cuba that organizes peaceful Sunday marches for freedom and human rights. The world-renowned group is formed by the wives, mothers, sisters, daughters, and supporters of political prisoners who were arrested during the “Black Spring” government crackdown on Cuban dissidents. During the four-day period that occurred in March 2003, 75 independent journalists, librarians, and democracy and human rights advocates were arrested and ultimately convicted with sentences ranging from 6 to 28 years.

    In July 2010, the Catholic Archdiocese of Cuba announced that the Cuban government would release the 52 Black Spring prisoners still imprisoned over the course of the following months. The Ladies in White have declared that they will continue protesting every Sunday until all of the Black Spring prisoners have been released.

  10. EL UNIVERSAL (Venezuela):Seven Cuban doctors sue Cuba and Venezuela over “modern slavery”

    Seven Cuban doctors and a nurse sued Cuba, Venezuela and the state-run oil company Petróleos de Venezuela (Pdvsa) for alleged conspiracy to force them to work in conditions of “modern slaves” in order to pay off the Cuban debt with the Venezuelan government for oil supply.

    The defendants “intentionally and arbitrarily” held the health staff in “debt servitude” and the staff became “economic slaves” and “political advocates,” according to the complaint filed in the United States, Efe reported.

    The charges were made last Friday in a Federal Court in Miami by doctors Julio César Lubian, Ileana Mastrapa, Miguel Majfud, María del Carmen Milanés, Frank Vargas, as well as John Doe and Julio César Dieguez, and the nurse Osmani Rebeaux.

    In the complaint, the leading defense attorney Arístides Cantón argued that the plaintiffs travelled to Venezuela in “deceit” and “threats,” and were forced to work unlimited hours in a social welfare program known as “Mission Barrio Adentro,” in areas with high rate of crime.

    http://english.eluniversal.com/2010/02/22/en_pol_esp_seven-cuban-doctors_22A3470091.shtml

  11. Around 500 Cuban doctors have defected to the United States while serving on aid missions in Venezuela.

    The doctors serving in those countries are essentially under surveillance all the time and any change in their plans not consistent with the orders given from Havana invariably lead to the involvement of police or paramilitary security forces. It is no wonder that many physicians in such missions defect to freedom. About 6,000 health workers, many of them physicians, have left Cuba in the last eight years.

  12. … with that nasty fastball and filthy slider it looks like the entire National League will be in hot water. Lets see if he can keep it up.

  13. IF AROLDIS WOULD AIM A BIT TO THE LEFT HE COULD PITCH ONE OF THOSE FAST BASEBALLS RIGHT TO “LA CHINA” & “THE MUMMY’S” HEADS!

    ASSOCIATED PRESS: Reds LH Cuban Aroldis Chapman arrives with 100 mph fastball-By JOE KAY
    CINCINNATI — The fire alarm was squealing at Great American Ball Park when left-hander Aroldis Chapman walked through the dugout and stepped onto a major league field for the first time.

    No, he hadn’t thrown one of those triple-digit fastballs yet. Just a false alarm.

    This time.

    The Cuban defector joined the Cincinnati Reds before their game Tuesday night against Milwaukee, with everybody eager to see how his urban-legend fastball — the one clocked at up to 105 mph in the minors — fares in the majors. Will it still sizzle?

    The first time out, it sure did.

    Chapman got a standing ovation from the crowd of only 19,218 when he jogged out of the bullpen to pitch the top of the eighth with the Reds leading 8-3. Fans let out a collective “ooh” after each warmup throw.

    His first pitch to Jonathan Lucroy registered 98 mph, and the third one hit 102 mph, drawing a loud cheer. Chapman made quick work of the three batters he faced — a strikeout by Lucroy on an 86 mph slider and two weak ground balls by Craig Counsell and pinch-hitter Carlos Gomez. Half of his eight pitches reached triple digits, topping out at 102.

    He walked off the field to another standing ovation.

    Those who have seen him pitch firsthand have no doubt he can keep it up.

    “There’s not a whole lot of guys like him, if any,” said pitcher Sam LeCure, who was his teammate at Triple-A Louisville.

    After a moment’s pause, LeCure said, “There’s none.”

    How’s that for an advance billing?

    The 22-year-old pitcher who defected from Cuba only 13 months ago arrived in the middle of a pennant race on Tuesday. The Reds had won 12 of their last 16 games, pulling away to a six-game lead over St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central.

    The Reds already are talking playoffs in Cincinnati. And Chapman’s name is part of the conversation. The Reds are confident he can handle the pressure of coming out of the bullpen with a pennant race riding on each triple-digit pitch.

    “I think he can handle it,” manager Dusty Baker said. “Because if you can handle pitching for food, you can certainly handle pitching here.”

    He was referring to Chapman’s background in Cuba, where his ability to throw so hard made him a big-league commodity. The Reds gave him a six-year, $30.25 million deal in January, expecting him to join the rotation at some point during the season.

    With more than enough starters, they moved Chapman to the bullpen last month and he excelled. A fastball that was clocked at 101 mph on scouts’ radar guns in spring training seemed to get better. He didn’t allow a hit in his last eight appearances out of the bullpen, dominating hitters who couldn’t catch up with the fastball or handle the slider and changeup that go with it.

    His teammates in Louisville marveled. Whenever Chapman was on the mound, everyone watched the board in right-center field that showed the speed pitch at Louisville Slugger Field.

    Even the players couldn’t help but look.

    “Every time he lets one go, everybody turns around or peaks,” second baseman Chris Valaika said. “You don’t want to get caught looking, but you see 104 — that’s something you’ve never seen before.”

    Valaika said Chapman topped out at 104 mph while he was there. A few days ago, one of his pitches registered 105 mph. Even if the radar in Louisville is off by a couple miles per hour, that’s still well above the speed limit for just about everybody else.

    Imagine what that’s like when the lanky pitcher with the long stride lets it go from less than 60 feet away.

    “It looks like what you’re thinking it looks like — it’s MOVING,” Valaika said. “And I’m really glad he’s on our side.”

    The Reds brought him up before Sept. 1 to make sure he would be eligible for postseason play. Chapman might get the chance to do what left-hander David Price did for Tampa Bay two years ago, when the highly valued starter got a chance to relieve during a pennant race.

    The Rays called him up in September — he was eligible for postseason play because of a loophole in the rules — and he helped them get to the World Series, where they lost to Philadelphia.

    There’s another precedent. In 2002, the Angels called up Francisco “K-Rod” Rodriguez in September, got him on the postseason roster and let him take them to their first World Series title. He tied a postseason record with five wins, set a relief record with 28 playoffs strikeouts, and at age 20 became the youngest pitcher ever to win a World Series game.

    Could Chapman bring some September sizzle to the Reds?

    “You don’t know how it’s going to end up,” Baker said.

    http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5iHBsiD4spw7lyeihVv2l6II6JX6gD9HURGSG0

  14. Me encantaria (perdone las faltas de acentos) poder enviar este articulo a mi amigo en Venezuela.

    Gracias por la informacion.

  15. What they are doing in Venezuela is outrageous. What a cinism of these Commie-Oportunists.

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