Cuba confirms defection of two baseball players during US trip

Cuba is confirming that two baseball players have defected while in the United States for a series of friendly games against U.S. collegians.

Official sports website Jit said Friday that third baseman Luis Yander La O and outfielder Yadiel Hernandez left the team in North Carolina, where the Cuban team has been playing tuneups ahead of the Pan American Games in Toronto.

The 25-year-old La O batted .329 in the Cuban league last season for Santiago. Hernandez is a 28-year-old who averaged .355 for Matanzas in 2014-15.

Defections have continued to hit Cuba’s national team despite a decision in late 2013 to raise athletes’ salaries and let them sign lucrative contracts to compete overseas during the offseason.

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