SBD/5/Sports Society

WILL HERNANDEZ FAMILY REUNION TURN INTO A FAMILY FEUD?

          Marlins P Livan Hernandez said Sunday "that he doesn't
     understand" why his half-brother Orlando "El Duque"
     Hernandez hasn't accepted a visa from the U.S. and said that
     he hasn't be able to contact Orlando in the Bahamas since
     last Thursday, according to Javier Mota of the MIAMI HERALD.

     Livan: "It's as if he's been kidnapped."  Mota writes the
     family reunion "has turned into a dispute" with agent Joe
     Cubas, who has been in the Bahamas and hopes to land an
     "eventual major-league contract" for the Cuban pitcher. 
     Both Orlando and Alberto Herandez, despite being offered
     U.S. visas, are looking to establish residency outside the
     U.S. so they can become free agents and "avoid" MLB's
     amateur June draft.  But Livan said Orlando should come to
     the U.S., adding, "There are people who are filling his head
     with bad advice that could hurt him."  Cubas helped Livan
     defect, but stopped representing him in '96.  Cubas said
     Livan's "words disappoint me" (MIAMI HERALD, 1/5).  
          TOP PROSPECT? NEWSWEEK examines the "daring escape" of
     Hernandez, who was banned from playing baseball in Cuba in
     '96 after Livan defected.  Orlando said he "became a 'pawn'
     in an ideological war between a communist system that is
     losing control and aggressive U.S.-based sports agents and
     teams who hope to lure talent North" (NEWSWEEK, 1/12 issue).

     In Toronto, Richard Griffin wrote the defection "smacks of
     another money-grab" by Cubas, and added it will only hurt
     relations with Cuba, which is the "key" to MLB's "talent
     supply in the next century."  Griffin: "Baseball, thinking
     long term, should refuse to sign Hernandez" (STAR, 1/3). 

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