Rays trip to Cuba for March 22 exhibition finally set
UPDATE, 5:59: The trip will cause some scheduling issues for the Rays, as they try to make sure their prep for the regular season is not disrupted. Each player will get $10,000 for going.
UPDATE 5:40 p.m.: MLB has announced the trip, with the release including these quotes:
Commissioner Rob Manfred: "Major League Baseball is excited to play in Cuba and to have the Tampa Bay Rays representing our 30 Clubs. During a time of historic change, we appreciate the constructive role afforded by our shared passion for the game, and we look forward to experiencing Cuba's storied baseball tradition and the passion of its many loyal fans."
MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark: "The Players on the Tampa Bay Rays are looking forward to visiting Cuba and playing in front of some of the world's most passionate and knowledgeable baseball fans. We thank the Cuban National Team and all involved in hosting this game, as we are very excited to return to Havana to continue our efforts to strengthen the ties between our countries through our love and passion for the game of baseball."
Rays pincipal owner Stuart Sternberg: "The Rays are extremely proud to represent Major League Baseball on a trip that will be so memorable and significant for two countries that revere our great sport. Our franchise will be privileged to visit Cuba, to share the field with its National Team and to embody the goodwill of our game."
earlier report follows
The Rays' trip to Cuba for a historic exhibition is finally set, the Tampa Bay Times has learned.
An announcement from MLB is expected later today.
The Rays will take on the Cuban National Team in a March 22 game in Havava, the first appearance by an MLB on the island since the Orioles played there in 1999.
President Barack Obama is also expected to attend the game as part of his own historic trip, the first visit by a U.S. president in nearly 90 years, as he continues efforts to restore relations with the island nation.
The Rays are expected to head south after their March 20 game in Sarasota, participate in some community/goodwill events on Monday and then play on Tuesday afternoon, with the game televised by ESPN and broadcast on Rays radio.