I apologize for not updating this blog recently. I have taken some time to attend some personal affairs; and I’m also taking a bit of a rest just before the season starts.

There’s been some free time for me after the Aragua Tigers became Venezuelan League Champions, and I’m trying to do many things. One of them (sorry) was not watching the Caribbean World Series, held in Puerto Rico.

I didn’t get a chance to cover it this year, and honestly, I thank God for not happening. I wouldn’t stand the way Venezuela played during the tournament, with such a sad performance. Terrible pitching, awful base running and a lack of clutch verging on the ridiculous.

The mood for fans at any Caribbean World Series is amazing. That’s how it’s been every time I’ve been able to cover it. And there’s so much temptation for partying and touristic activities around, so many ballplayers fall for it. There’s the perception among many that the Caribbean World Series is nothing but a paid vacation for baseball players. And I do believe that the one team that takes it as it should be taken, as strictly business, will win it.

That’s how it was in Caracas back in 2002 for the Mexico team. They were fully committed, never skipped practice, always showing up on time.

So when you read statements as those made by Venezuela manage Buddy Bailey, you cannot help but lower your head in shame: "There are plenty of reasons (for the downfall), but the most important one is lack of commitment. When you make trips such as this and you bring your family or any other kind of company with you, they will look forward to joining you in doing all sorts of things, and that takes things out of control. It’s obvious that when you go down to a resort people think they’re on vacation, but they’re not. This is the Caribbean World Series".

"I’m disappointed. To be honest with you, I’m seeing some guys that are not playing up to their full potential, the one I know they’re capable of bringing to the game".

Enough said. Err, I better change subjects.

There will be a quite interesting and competitive Spring Training for the Astros. Many people for so few spots on the final roster.

There’s plenty of non-roster invitees, such as Richard Hidalgo, who’s coming after his rebirth on the Venezuelan Winter League. Competition between him and guys such as Jason Lane is going to be fierce.

The Astros have not declined in signing men like Lane and Morgan Ensberg, who carry huge question marks on them. Will they stay? How will they do?

The possibilities (and speculation) are limitless.

Hunter Pence will be one of the guys to watch. After a sensational rise on the minor league system, and a breaking performance on the Arizona Fall League, his progress might have stalled after his DWI incident, which led him to face disciplinary measures from the organization. He must prove all of that is behind him and that he is truly hungry. There’s still a bit of development left for him but this is a good moment to see him.

All of this in mind, and there’s so little time until the moment pitchers and catchers report. How many things to watch. One thing that will keep me busy is to see how much progress catchers Hector Gimenez and Humberto Quintero have made, so one of them can be Brad Ausmus’ backup guy. They won’t be alone in that competition, though. Kevin Davidson and Louis Santangelo will also be there.

What’s your favorite Spring Training storyline for this year?

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