Baseball players from the U.S. and Cuba have high hopes for the future of their sport as they prepare for a historic exhibition game attended by the presidents of the two countries in Havana. Diane Hodges reports.
Cuban baseball players are ready to 'pitch in' to improving relations with the U.S. The Cuban national team will play an exhibition game with the Tampa Bay Rays in Havana on Tuesday. In the stands will be Cuban President Raul Castro, and U.S. President Barack Obama. Cuban players are hoping the improving relations between the two countries will make it easier for them to play in the U.S, according to Cuban Baseball Commissioner Higinio Velez. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) HIGINIO VELEZ, CUBAN BASEBALL COMMISSIONER, SAYING: "Hopefully, a Cuban player will no longer have to give up his citizenship in order to play in the United States." The Tampa team is the first Major League Baseball franchise to play in Cuba since the Baltimore Orioles in 1999. Rays owner Stuart Sternberg is optimistic about major changes are ahead. (SOUNDBITE) (English) STUART STERNBERG, OWNER OF THE TAMPA BAY RAYS, SAYING: "We're excited obviously by having the presidents of both countries at the game but mostly, to bring the game of baseball here and be a part of something that will be significant. You do get a sense, because of the importance of the game in this country as well as in the United States, that it will absolutely find its way to more competition going forward." The exhibition game will be an historic opportunity for Cuba's players to show Sternberg what they can do.