Cuba to play in Caribbean Series

Cuba will open against Mexico in the 2014 Caribbean Series that will be held in Venezuela. Cuba will be represented by the team from Villa Clara, the champion of the national series in Cuba. Cuba has been away from the MLB affiliated league since 1960 when Fidel Castro banned professional sports.

The Caribbean-style baseball has proven to be the best in the world, with two Caribbean teams (the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico) making the playoffs of the 2013 World Baseball Classic. Now the teams will play for the best in the Caribbean from 1 to 8 February in Isla Margarita.

The Caribbean Series pits the winning team of each of the winter baseball leagues of Mexico, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Venezuela, and now Cuba against each other.

Juan Francisco Puello Herrera, president of the Baseball Confederation of the Caribbean had long been lobbying for the inclusion on the argument that if Cuba could play in the MLB national-team tournament, the World Baseball Classic it should be allowed to play in the Caribbean Series after a 53-year absence. Talks were held with the MLB, the US government and the Cuban Federation of Baseball. The final obstacle, the US government license was recently obtained clearing the way for the Cuban team to play. The approval was needed because of the US embargo over Cuba. The US embargo of Cuba bars MLB players from participating in a league that includes a Cuban team unless MLB obtains certain authorizations from the US government.

The Caribbean Confederation is also considering the future inclusion of a sixth team, the winner of the Latin American Series event that takes place every year between Colombia, Panama, Nicaragua and the Liga Veracruzana.

The Caribbean Series is played by the round-robin system in a single round, with one day off for each country. The team in the fifth position is eliminated. The other four teams then play in the semi-finals with the first two teams moving to the finals on 8 February.

The schedule for the 2014 series is:

Friday, 1 February.

3:30pm: Puerto Rico vs. DR

8pm: Cuba vs. Venezuela

Saturday, 2 February

3:30pm: Mexico vs. Puerto Rico

8pm: Cuba vs. Venezuela

Sunday, 3 February

3:30pm: DR vs. Cuba

8pm: Venezuela vs. Mexico

Monday, 4 February

3:30pm: Puerto Rico vs. Cuba

8pm: DR vs. Venezuela

Tuesday, 5 February

3:30pm: Mexico vs. DR

8pm: Venezuela vs. Puerto Rico

Wednesday, 6 February

7:30pm: 3rd place vs. 2nd place

Thursday, 7 February

7:30pm: 4th place vs. 1st place

Friday, 8 February

7:30pm: Finals