Cuban pitcher Contreras pays visit to homeland

Jose Contreras has received a rousing welcome in his return to

Cuba 10 years after defecting.

The major league pitcher is the first athlete to take advantage

of a new migratory law that makes it easier for defectors who have

long been considered traitors to visit their homeland.

Dissident Roman Catholic activist Dagoberto Valdes says

Contreras received a hero’s welcome in the western city of Pinar

del Rio.

He says Contreras took pictures on Wednesday with fans in a park

among hundreds of onlookers.

Contreras walked away while playing for Cuba in Mexico in 2002

and was signed by the New York Yankees a year later. He also played

for the Chicago White Sox, Colorado Rockies and Philadelphia


The 41-year-old right-hander is a free agent.