Major League Baseball wants to play exhibition game in Cuba

Thu Mar 19, 2015 9:55pm EDT
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By Daniel Trotta

HAVANA (Reuters) - Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred has declared his intention to play an exhibition game in Cuba in 2016 even though a Cuban baseball official said the two sides had yet to start talks.

The game could set up a rapprochement on the diamond similar to the way the U.S. and Cuban governments have come together at the negotiating table.

Commissioner Rob Manfred told the Wall Street Journal on Thursday that MLB was likely to play an exhibition game in Cuba in early 2016.

Reuters was not able to immediately reach Manfred after business hours for comment.

A Cuban baseball official said any talks would be dependent on the outcome of the ongoing negotiations between Havana and Washington.

"That may be their will, but we have not had any conversations. There is no agreement," said Antonio Diaz, spokesman for the National Baseball Directorate.

The United States and Cuba are attempting to end more than half a century of confrontation and restore diplomatic ties, a step that could lead to normal trade and travel relations.

But serious obstacles remain, including the U.S. economic embargo of Cuba. U.S. President Barack Obama wants to lift it but needs approval from the Republican-controlled Congress.   Continued...

Mar 19, 2015; Dunedin, FL, USA;  Boston Red Sox second baseman Jemile Weeks (30)  slides safely into home plate as Toronto Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin (55) attempts to tag him in the third inning of the spring training game  at Florida Auto Exchange Park. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports