SPORTS

Diamond Diplomacy: U.S.-Cuba Begin 5-Game Baseball Exhibition In Havana

TOKYO, JAPAN - MARCH 11:  Outfielder Yasmany Tomas # 27 of Cuba reacts after hitting a RBI single in the eighth inning during the World Baseball Classic Second Round Pool 1 game between Cuba and the Netherlands at Tokyo Dome on March 11, 2013 in Tokyo, Japan.  (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)

TOKYO, JAPAN - MARCH 11: Outfielder Yasmany Tomas # 27 of Cuba reacts after hitting a RBI single in the eighth inning during the World Baseball Classic Second Round Pool 1 game between Cuba and the Netherlands at Tokyo Dome on March 11, 2013 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)  (2013 Getty Images)

Cuba is hoping to use a five-game baseball exhibition against a team of U.S. college players to bounce back from recent disappointing international results in a sport that's considered the island's national pastime.

The series that started Wednesday in Cuba is the third time Cuban and U.S. baseball squads have met since 2012, when games resumed after being discontinued in 1996.

Cuba long dominated amateur baseball, winning Olympic gold in 1992, 1996 and 2004.

But it hasn't won a major international competition since 2005, and the team that traveled to the U.S. last year to play collegians lost all five games.

The official newspaper Juventud Rebelde says the young Cuban team will use the games to find "a road to reconstruction to view the future with optimism."

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