Jesse Sanchez

Rays have day they'll 'never forget' in Cuba

Rays have day they'll 'never forget' in Cuba

HAVANA -- Matt Moore's glove is going to the White House. If Chris Archer is lucky, he'll get a member of President Barack Obama's family to respond to him on Twitter.

Moore and Archer and their Tampa Bay teammates wrapped up their excursion in Cuba with a 4-1 victory against the Cuban national team at Estadio Latinoamericano on Tuesday, and they will return to Florida for more Grapefruit League play with new memories and lifelong goals fulfilled.

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President Obama's gameday in Havana

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Obama greets Jeter
Rays shake hands with Obama
Kiermaier scores game's first run

It was Archer's dream to meet President Obama. He can now check that box and mark it off of his bucket list. President Obama, the first sitting U.S. president to visit Cuba in 88 years, and his family were seated behind home plate. Archer chatted with the Obamas before the first pitch.

"I met the president and the first lady [Michelle Obama], and the first question I had for the first lady was why she didn't respond to me on Twitter," Archer said with a smile. "Apparently, they don't look at it as much as we do. It was awesome. [President Obama] complimented me not only on my ability but the way I carry myself and the way I speak. Coming from him, there's really no higher compliment."

Archer shared the details of his once-in-a-lifetime interaction with Michelle Obama.

"I just wanted to express my gratitude [for her work] with the youth in the community, and I made sure to tell her that anytime she wanted some help, I would be on board," he said.

Return to Cuba a day to remember

Archer, who pitched against Cuba while with Team USA in the qualifier for the 2010 Pan American Games, did not pitch Tuesday. He did deliver Moore's glove to President Obama, who like Moore is left-handed.

"People were upset that I wasn't pitching. They were mad, and it was hard for me to explain that we were pitching on a Spring Training schedule and it has to line up with our regular season," Archer said. "I'm OK with that, because they wanted to see the best possible product, and obviously Matt Moore is an All-Star and a high-end talent as well. I think they realized that today."

Archer on meeting Obama

Moore gave up six hits in six scoreless innings for the victory. He walked one batter, struck out three and later chalked up a shaky first inning to jitters.

"There definitely was not a lot of feel for what I was doing out there. I was just trying to get them out," Moore said. "As the innings went on -- after the second the inning -- it felt like things dialed in a little bit better.

"It was some kind of an experience, something that I will definitely never forget."

The Rays departed for Florida shortly after the game ended, but not before expressing their appreciation. Some Rays met with the Cuban players on the field after the game. Archer took a step further and exchanged jerseys with Cuban catcher Frank Morejon.

"We won't experience anything like this again, so it was a very special day for Major League Baseball, the Tampa Bay Rays and all of our players, myself included," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "Most of the guys here have played winter ball in some capacity, but this is winter ball times 10 over here, with the passion the fans showed."

Jesse Sanchez is a national reporter for Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.