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Cuba: 2 pitchers booted from reigning champion Villa Clara after reported defection attempts

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HAVANA - Villa Clara pitchers Diosdani Castillo and Yasmany Hernandez Romero have been indefinitely kicked off their club after they recently attempted to defect, according to Cuban official media.

The Vanguardia newspaper of Villa Clara province said Castillo and Hernandez tried to leave the island about two weeks ago.

"They will no longer wear the orange jersey following a grave indiscipline," Vanguardia reported over the weekend.

Villa Clara is the reigning champion of the Cuban baseball league, and orange is its signature colour.

Sports officials announced in late June that Castillo, Hernandez and several players from other clubs would be left off a national squad that is set to face a team of U.S. collegians later this month.

All were said to have made "illegal exit attempts." At least one of the players named, Yasmani Tomas of the Havana team Industriales, was successful.

Cuban ballplayers who leave often hope to compete in the United States, where potential multimillion-dollar contracts beckon.

Cuba recently began letting some players still in their prime sign temporary contracts in other leagues such as Japan.

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