Lázaro de la Torre
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Lázaro de la Torre Armenteros (El Brazo de Hierro)
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Lázaro de la Torre was a 200-game winner in Cuba.
De la Torre first made the league leaders in the 1979 Series Selectivas, when he went 7-0 for Habana to pace the league in winning percentage. He also led with 21 games pitched. In 1982, he led the Series Selectivas in appearances (21) and innings (126). He was the top pitcher in the 1982 Central American and Caribbean Games, going 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA but Cuba only won a Silver Medal. He pitched 19 games for Habana in the 1983 Series Selectivas, tying Raúl González for the league lead.
Lázaro had a 6.24 ERA and no decisions in the 1983 Intercontinental Cup and was on Cuba's roster but did not play in the 1983 Pan American Games; Cuba won Gold in both events. He continued to be a workhorse for Habana in the Series Selectivas; in 1985, the 27-year-old led the circuit in games pitched (18), wins (9) and innings (109 2/3). He had a 3.00 ERA and no decisions in the 1985 Intercontinental Cup, which Cuba won.
While de la Torre had done very well in the Series Selectivas, he had not led the Serie Nacional in any department until 1985-1986. That year, the Industriales right-hander tied José Riveira and Luis Tissert for the league lead in wins (11) and tied Regino Robaina for the most shutouts (4). He won Serie Nacional Most Valuable Pitcher honors. He was with Cuba for the 1987 Pan American Games but did not pitch.
The hard-throwing hurler was with the Metropolitanos in 1990-1991 when he tied for the Western zone lead in innings (105, even with Adiel Palma) and tied for the most complete games in the whole Serie Nacional (9, tied with Palma and René Arocha). He would never place as a league leader again.
On April 8, 2001, de la Torre won his 200th game in Cuba. He was the fourth Cuban hurler to 200 since the Castro revolution. He spent his last two years playing in Japan's industrial leagues when Cuban stars like Omar Linares were given permission to play in Japan. A friend from Japan later would donate him $137,000 to buy baseball equipment for de la Torre's work teaching young kids.
In 2009, Cuba was looking to spruce up the old Desa Stadium field for the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution. De la Torre was given the job and became the park (now Estadio 50 Aniversario)'s de facto electrician, plumber, welder, bathroom cleaner and landscaper while also throwing over 1,000 batting practice pitches per day. When an American reported came to Cuba in 2015 to report on the poor conditions there, de la Torre said he had no regrets about staying in Cuba, saying he had seen America during three visits with the Cuban national team and that friendship is more important than money.
Overall, he went 208-139 with 32 saves and a 3.30 ERA in 516 games in Cuba. He completed 161 of 337 starts. He was also 3 for 4 with two doubles at the plate; the DH was used during his career, limiting his chances offensively. As of 2011, he was tied for 6th in post-1962 Cuba in seasons pitched (20), fifth in pitching appearances (behind Carlos Yánes, José M. Báez, Misael López and Jorge Luis Valdés), 9th in starts (between Palma and Ciro Licea), 5th in wins (trailing Pedro Luis Lazo, Jorge Luis Valdés, Yánes and Braudilio Vinent), 9th in complete games (between Julio Romero and Omar Carrero), 10th in losses (between Óscar Gil and Faustino Corrales), 5th in innings (2,818 1/3, behind Yánes, Vinent, Lazo and Jorge Luis Valdés), 8th in hits allowed (2,682, between Báez and Vinent), 8th in earned runs allowed (1,032, between Gil and Ormari Romero), 8th in walks (930, between Gervasio Miguel and Lazo) and 10th in strikeouts (1,713, between Omar Ajete and José Ibar).