Rays will play Cuban national team in Havana in March
The Tampa Bay Rays will play the Cuban national team in Havana, Cuba, on March 22, reports Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.
The Rays, who were randomly selected by MLB commissioner Rob Manfred in November to partake in the spring training game abroad, will be the first U.S. team to play in Cuba since March 1999. Before Fidel Castro’s revolution, U.S. teams commonly played spring training games in Cuba. However, no MLB spring training games took place in Cuba between 1959 and 1999.
Manfred said last month he was confident the Rays’ game in Havana would happen, pending approval from Cuba. President Barack Obama is expected to attend the game, according to a White House announcement Tuesday.
The United States reestablished diplomatic relations with Cuba in December 2014, allowing more travel and economic freedom between the two countries. Numerous Cuban stars populate the MLB, such as the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig and the Mets’ Yoenis Cespedes.