Several current and former baseball players, as well as Joe Torre and other baseball officials, head to Cuba today, for a three-day goodwill tour put together by Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association.
The visiting party will include several Cuban major leaguers including Jose Abreu, Brayan Pena and Alexi Ramirez and Cuban-American Jon Jay. In his story about the tour, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says that Yasiel Puig may also attend, though it is not certain that he would. Also in attendance will be Clayton Kershaw, Miguel Cabrera, Nelson Cruz, Dave Winfield and many others. The party leaves from Miami today. Over the next three days they will conduct children’s baseball clinics and participate in charity events.
Baseball’s last interaction with Cuba came in 1999, when the Orioles and the Cuban National Team played a home-and-home series in Havana and Baltimore. Since then, the primary mode of interaction between Cuba and U.S. baseball has consisted of Cuban players, such as Pena, Abreu and Puig, defecting in order to play in the United States. With the thawing of U.S.-Cuban relations in the past year, however, the door is now opening for a more normalized relationship. It begins with this tour.