From BR Bullpen
Juan Manrique García
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 0", Weight 187 lb.
Juan Manrique was 1 for 3 with a steal for Cuba in the 1993 Intercontinental Cup, when they won Gold; he backed up Alberto Hernández behind the plate. In the 1994 Baseball World Cup, he again backed up Hernández and went 0 for 2 for the Gold Medalists. In the 1995 Intercontinental Cup, Manrique was 1 for 4 with two walks, a double, two runs and a RBI. He played 16 innings over 6 games as the backup to Hernández. He hit .414 in the 1995 Pan American Games.
Manrique played in the 1996 Olympics, hitting .359/.405/.769 as Cuba's main catcher. He blasted four homers and five doubles in seven games, with 11 runs and 12 RBI. In the Gold Medal game, he was 0 for 3 with a walk from the #8 spot as Cuba beat Japan 13-9 to take the Gold. He tied for 7th in the high-scoring Atlanta Games in homers, behind teammates Orestes Kindelan, Omar Linares and Antonio Pacheco, Japan's Nobuhiko Matsunaka and Americans Jacque Jones and Warren Morris.
Juan drew 53 walks to lead the 1996-1997 Serie Nacional. He was 5 for 10 with two walks, two homers, five runs and six RBI in the 1997 World Port Tournament, splitting catching duties with Yosvani Madera. In the 1997 Intercontinental Cup, Manrique produced at a .333/.515/.750 rate with 9 walks, 3 homers and 8 runs in 9 games. He failed to lead the event in free passes as Pat Burrell amazingly drew 15 of them. Juan tied Burrell and Miguel Caldés for 5th in the event in home runs, behind Greg Jelks, Kindelan, Paul Gonzalez and Yoshinobu Takahashi. In the Gold Medal game, he batted 6th and reached in all four plate appearances, with a single and three walks, the only walks issued by Koji Uehara and Hitoshi Miyata that day. It wasn't enough as Japan stunned Cuba 11-2, leaving them with a Silver Medal; it was the first time in 15 years Cuba had failed to win Gold in a major tournament. Manrique was left off the All-Tournament team as Australia's Gary White was chosen at catcher.
Manrique walked 72 times in 1997-1998 to tie Javier Méndez for the league lead. He starred in the 1998 Central American and Caribbean Games, hitting .333 with a tourney-best 3 homers and 12 RBI (tied with Earl Agnoly) as Cuba won Gold. The 30-year-old was 3 for 7 with two runs and two RBI in the 1998 Haarlem Baseball Week.
In the 1998 Baseball World Cup, the Matanzas native hit .500/.552/.962 with 5 doubles, 9 runs and 9 RBI as Cuba won Gold. He was named the tourney All-Star catcher, finishing second in the event in average behind Kindelan. Hitting 8th in the Gold Medal game, he was 1 for 4 as Cuba beat South Korea, 7-1.
Manrique drew 89 walks in 1998-1999 to set a new record in Cuba. He played for Cuba in the 1999 Baltimore Orioles Cuban National Team Exhibition Series. He was on their roster for the 1999 Pan American Games but did not get an at-bat. Juan was 2 for 10 with a homer and three walks in the 2000 Olympics, backing up Ariel Pestano at catcher. In the Gold Medal game, he pinch-hit for Pestano with two outs in the bottom of the 8th and was retired by Ben Sheets as Cuba fell to the USA 4-0 to settle for Silver for the first time ever in an Olympics. It would be Manrique's last time on the national team.
Manrique remained productive in Cuba, though. In 2001-2002, he drew 90 walks to break his own record. He topped his record once more the next season, 2002-2003, with 105 free passes, shattering his old mark by 16 percent. He fell all the way to 64 walks in 2003-2004 but still led the league for the 6th time. That year, he also delivered 14 home runs, a .345 average and .562 slugging percentage at age 35.
Through 2003-2004, he had played 18 seasons in Cuba and hit .288/.437/.489 with 219 home runs and 1,139 walks. He had thrown out 413 base thieves in 912 tries. He was the all-time Cuban leader in runners caught stealing at that point despite being only 5th in steals allowed. He was 5th in career walks behind Antonio Muñoz, Linares, Méndez and Kindelan. He retired at that point despite still being a productive player.
Through 2009, Manrique had fallen to 6th in Cuba in walks (Enrique Díaz had passed him) and was 8th in OBP (trailing only Linares, Luis Casanova, Osmani Urrutia and Méndez among retirees and just ahead of Muñoz).