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Tampa Bay Rays announce preseason game against Cubans

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After months of ironing out the details, the Tampa Bay Rays are headed to Cuba.

The Rays will play a game March 22 against the Cuba National team in Havana’s Estadio Latinamericano. The game will coincide with a trip by President Barrack Obama to the island.

It will be the first game in Cuba by an American team since the Baltimore Orioles played the Cuban National team in 1999.

MLB not only seeks to play a symbolic role in the reopening of relations between the two countries for the first time since 1961. The league is also eyeing the longer-term goal of easing the often-dangerous path Cuban-born players take to reach the major leagues.

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said that “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.”

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit garysheltonsports@gmail.com.

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