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Legionaires off to Cuba for pro training

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

Oshawa’s elite baseball players are looking to get a head start on their upcoming season. Not only that, but they’re hoping to learn from the best.

A group of U18 Legionaires, who will open their regular season on May 3, are travelling to Cuba this week for spring training with some professionals from the Carribean nation.

“Baseball in Cuba is like hockey in Canada,” says Daryl Macklem, the team’s manager.

“So we’re going to get to see firsthand the passion that they have and hopefully that instills some passion into our guys.”

The team will be on the road from the hotel each morning at 8:30 a.m. to hit the ballpark for practice, followed by a game with Cuban players.

“There’s going to be an opportunity to lean different drills, see how they do things,” Macklem says. “Hopefully we can bring some of that back home.”

According to Macklem, the idea came about for the trip a few years ago when thinking of changing things up for spring training sessions.

“We thought, let’s do something that’s out of the ordinary, let’s go for an experience…let’s do something different,” he explains.

The U18 Legionaires, while not a new team in the city, are now part of the new Eastern Ontario Baseball Association (EOBA) elite league. The U18 is one of two elite teams in the organization, with Basbeall Oshawa still fielding an EOBA U18 team aside from the elite league.

While the full schedule for the club is yet to be finalized for the upcoming season, the team will open their season at Kinsman Stadium on May 3 when they face off against Mississauga North.