Despite a report that surfaced Tuesday evening quoting a Cuban official saying that the Orioles will play a game in Cuba this season, there are no plans for a game to be played there, according to Major League Baseball.
“No decision has been made about any team playing in Cuba,” the league, which would have to approve any game in Cuba, told The Sun in a statement on Wednesday morning.
It's no secret that the Orioles would like to play a game in Cuba given that the United States is in the process of restoring diplomatic relations there. And while the Orioles are open to playing a game in Cuba sooner than later, MLB was targeting spring training next year.
According to an Agence France-Presse report, Antonio Becali, the director of Cuba’s National Institute of Sport, told Radio Habana Cuba that an exhibition game between the Orioles and the Cuban National Team is planned for this year.
"A clash with the Orioles is planned," Becali told the radio network Tuesday.
Becali said that while no date has been set for the game, it will be during the Orioles’ regular season, so their “first-string” players will not participate.
The Orioles played an exhibition game against the Cuban National Team in Havana on March 28, 1999 during much more tenuous times between the nations, in hopes that baseball could serve as a bridge to political change on the island. The Cuban National Team played at Camden Yards that May.
Because the Orioles have previously overcome the obstacles of playing a game in Cuba – and put the game together quickly after receiving the blessing of the U.S. government – they have quietly campaigned to be team to return there once MLB is ready.
But MLB has made it clear that it will take its cues from the U.S. government before pursuing any game in Cuba.