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Orioles Set To Play Cuba

The Baltimore Orioles will play the Cuban national team March 28 in Havana, with a second game in Baltimore at an undetermined date.

The agreement -- announced Sunday by major league baseball -- will mark the first time in more than 40 years that a major league team will play in Cuba.

The arrangements were completed during the weekend at a meeting among officials from the Orioles, major league baseball, the players' union and the State Department.

The second game will have to be worked around the Orioles' exhibition and regular schedule, and could be played after the regular season.

Baltimore is to play the Philadelphia Phillies in Alabama on April 3 and has an off day April 4 before opening the regular season at home April 5.

Cuba once was a site for spring training camps before the communist revolution that brought Fidel Castro to power in the late 1950s.

Proceeds from the two games -- a sticking point in the negotiations -- will be used mainly to support baseball and other sports activities in the two countries, major league baseball said.

The Clinton administration does not want profits to go to Castro's government. The Americans have suggested the money go to the Cuban operation of the Roman Catholic charity Caritas. Cuban leaders have suggested using the money to help Cuban doctors in Central America who are assisting victims of Hurricane Mitch.

The proposal has been criticized by Cuban exiles and national groups in Florida. Cuban exile groups, responding to the latest news, planned a protest Sunday during an exhibition game between the Orioles and the Florida Marlins in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

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