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MLB Waiting for Opportunities in Cuba

 Major League Baseball authorities are closely following the agreement reached by Cuba and the United States to re-establish diplomatic relations, though the embargo will continue to prevent Cuban baseball players from reaching the league in a normal, straightforward way.

“MLB is closely following the White House announcement,” the US League declared Wednesday through a communiqué, adding it did not have enough details about the decision to offer an assessment.

Peter's Interview for "Outta the Parkway" on SeamHeads.com

Listen to Pete Bjarkman talk about the baseball impact of thawing relations between the USA and Cuba (on podcast radio with SEAMHEADS and Ted Leavengood) …

USA Baseball to Host Cuba in Friendship Series

DURHAM, N.C. — USA Baseball and the Cuban Baseball Federation announced on Wednesday that the two international baseball powers will continue their home-and-home international friendship series in the U.S. this July. 2015 will mark the fourth consecutive year the two countries have met on the baseball diamond for a five-game series. The U.S. hosted in 2013, while Cuba hosted the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team in 2012 and 2014.

Report: Yoan Moncada to Red Sox

The Boston Red Sox reportedly have landed the latest free-agent prize out of Cuba, coming to terms with 19-year-old switch-hitting infielder Yoan Moncada.

Moncada's representative David Hastings said there is no signed agreement yet but anticipates it will be done soon. A Red Sox team source also told ESPNBoston.com that no deal had been reached.

While the Yoan Moncada deal represents a coup for the Red Sox, it's also a very big and expensive gamble, writes Gordon Edes. Story

Minnie Minoso, Helped Integrate Baseball With White Sox, Dies at 89

Minnie Minoso, the hugely popular All-Star outfielder from Cuba who was the major leagues’ first black player out of Latin America and a treasured figure in the history of the Chicago White Sox, died on Sunday in Chicago. His true age was never entirely clear, but by an account in his autobiography, he would have been 89 when he died.

Cuban MLB Presence Stabilizes

With a number of hot prospects (led by Yasmani Tomas, Rusney Castillo and Dalier Hinojosa) perched in AAA, the Cuban big league presence is likely to soar again during the first several months of the new 2015 season. But currently only 18 Cubans are found on MLB Opening Day rosters. The single newcomer is Raciel Iglesias who has been tabbed as a fifth starter by the Cincinnati Reds and will likely become Cuban big leaguer #187 before the week is over. The list of Cubans (12 in the NL and 6 in the AL) on Opening Day Rosters is as follows (salaries included in parentheses):

Yunieski Maya Tosses No Hitter for Doosan in Korea

Yunesky Maya tossed the first no hitter of the 2015 season for the summer leagues. He no hit the Nexen Heroes in a 1-0 win. It is the 12th no hitter in KBO baseball, the second by a foreign pitcher. Last year Charlie Shirek of the NC Dinos pitched the first no hitter by a foreign pitcher.

Maya walked three and struck out eight in the outing, throwing a KBO career high 136 pitches. He is now 2-1 with a 2.45 ERA in three starts.

The Cuban Invasion

Major League Baseball has seen an influx of Cuban players in recent years. Will the U.S.’s move to normalize relations with the baseball-mad country bring even more stars stateside?

Yunel Escobar’s long, winding road to the big leagues

Yunel Escobar has told his story before, about how at age 21 he left his family in his native Cuba without warning, gathered a group of close friends and escaped to the United States by boat to follow his dream of playing major league baseball. But Escobar has never talked about the American girl who helped put him in touch with the smugglers. He has never talked about his eight months living and training with the smugglers in Miami until he could pay for his escape. He has never talked, in this much detail, about the dangerous, winding path he took from Havana to Miami to the majors.

Arizona Diamondbacks' Ariel Prieto finds language keeps him in the game

He kept his signing bonus, $1.2 million, in his pocket for four days — Thursday through Sunday — before a teammate, then-Athletics outfielder Stan Javier, took him to a Wells Fargo on a Monday to deposit the almost-crumpled check.

And he'll never forget that one trip to Safeway when he confused the beautiful, yet furry, face of a dog on a can for food intended for him.

"It's really hard," he said. "It looks easy, but it's not easy. It's all about language."

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