ISLA DE MARGARITA, Venezuela -- Cuba has been asked to participate the 2015 Caribbean Series in Puerto Rico as a special guest, but it's uncertain if the country will be allowed to attend because of its relationship with the United States.
"Puerto Rico is in agreement with the invitation to Cuba, but we'll have to wait on final permission," Caribbean Confederation commissioner Juan Puello Herrera said. "The important thing is that Cuba wants to participate. I believe Cuba wants to be there."
An original member of the Caribbean Confederation along with Panama, Puerto Rico and Venezuela, Cuba won seven titles starting in 1949. Fidel Castro took power in 1959 and ended the country's participation in the event after 1960. Because the United States, which includes the U.S Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, has an economic embargo against Cuba, Cuban teams that participate in the Caribbean Series are not paid and cannot receive awards.
"Cuba's level of play is very good, but what is happening is the competition," Herrera said. "When the embargo is lifted, Cuba will be in the plans. They are in a position to host the event. Also, their stadium Estadio Latinoamerica is under reconstruction and it looks like we will be able to celebrate a series there."
Cuba's Villa Clara team is 0-3 after its first three games of the Caribbean Series.
Maya visits, reminisces with former Cuban teammates
ISLA DE MARGARITA, Venezuela -- Braves pitcher Yunesky Maya, who represented Cuba in two World Baseball Classics, refused to pitch against his country in the first game of the Caribbean Series between Cuba and Maya's Tigres de Licey from the Dominican Republic on Monday.
Instead, the Braves pitcher started against Puerto Rico's Indios de Mayaguez on Saturday. He was charged with five runs on six hits in 4 1/3 innings in the 7-6 loss.
Maya, who defected from Cuba in 2009, admitted it's been strange to see his former Cuban national squad teammates in the opposing dugout all week. He's been visiting with his old friends in between games.
"I feel happy to be here, but you feel a little bit sad to see your people on the other side," said Maya, who signed a Minor League deal with Atlanta. "I'm really happy to see everyone. We hugged and talked. I'm very proud of them and happy to see them here."
It's been quite an experience for Cuba's Villa Clara team. The Azucareros have lost their first three Caribbean Series games, which includes a 9-2 loss to the Dominican Republic. A team from Cuba has not participated in the annual tournament since 1960.
Maya, 32, went 1-5 with a 5.80 ERA in 59 innings over three seasons with the Nationals. He was released by Washington last November.
Machi ready to take on any role in Giants 'pen
ISLA DE MARGARITA, Venezuela -- Venezuelan reliever Jean Machi is closing games for the Navigantes del Magallanes, but he's ready to fill any role the Giants ask of him come Spring Training.
"I've worked hard and that's the most important thing I can do right now, " Machi said. "I'm feeling pretty good, not tired at all. It's been great t be here now and I know I'm going to arrive at Spring Training ready to go and try to win a job."
Machi went 3-1 with a 2.38 ERA in 53 innings for the Giants last season, pitching primarily in the seventh and eighth innings. Machi notched his second save in his second outing of the series on Monday night.