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Former Major Leaguer Jose Contreras Takes the Mound at Holiday Classic

By Andy Villamarzo, special to MSBL National

January 14, 2017, Kissimmee, FL - At age 45, former Major League Baseball pitcher Jose Contreras has seen his best years go by.

The former New York Yankee, Chicago White Sox hurler came over to the United States in October, 2002 when Contreras defected from Cuba while playing for the country's national team. Leaving his home country, Contreras landed a contract with the Yankees and moved on after two seasons to play for the White Sox, in which is where the hard throwing right-hander found his most success on the south side of Chicago.

Contreras helped bring home a World Series championship to Chicago in 2005 and finished with regular season statistics of 154 strikeouts, a 3.61 earned run average and a record of 15-7. After concluding his time in the MLB in 2013, Contreras has continued to stay involved with the game of baseball in anyway possible. From playing in Taiwan for the Chinatrust Brothers to just a few short months ago pitching in Mexico for the Tigres de Quintana Roo, Contreras has continued to play baseball wherever he can possible.

That road has led to playing in the MSBL, which is where Contreras has now brought his talents to and now plays with the Dade City Brewers of Pasco County, located near Tampa, Florida. This past Saturday morning, Contreras started at pitcher for the Brewers and looked every bit as tough as he did back during his MLB days.

"For the love of baseball," Contreras said on why he's begun playing with the Brewers in the MSBL. "I love baseball so much. I've accomplished so much stuff throughout my career, but I still love baseball and I still have the itch to continue playing. The guys on the team are friends to me and I get to continue doing what I love to do."

When asked about the comparison of playing professionally and in the MSBL, Contreras offered that there wasn't too much more of a difference to him, as baseball is all the same. Outside of the strenuous preparation set forth by managers in the MLB, Contreras believes that baseball is baseball, no matter what level it's played at.
"Baseball is the same for me," Contreras said. "The concepts and everything are the same. The difference is in the big leagues, you prepare to be in the big leagues but you always have to prepare. If there's a bat, there's a ball, they can hit you. To me, it's basically all the same. At this level of baseball, I am surprised with the amount of good talent around (the MSBL)."

Contreras just started playing with the Brewers very recently, with Saturday morning starting off as the 45-year old's first go within the MSBL. Despite only having just a handful of experience of playing in MSBL tournaments with the Brewers, Contreras stated that he's seen some good competition player wise and his hopes are to help lead Dade City to a potential championship in the near future.

"I love it," Contreras said of going up against the players in the MSBL tournament. "I see sometimes guys see me and they say here comes a big leaguer, but I don't feel like that going into a game. I like to share my experiences of the game to all of the guys around. The teams have good quality (in the MSBL). It's my first time on this team, but that's why we're all here. To win a championship."
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