Venezuelan baseball league asks US for exception to ban

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuelan officials say they’re fighting a ban by Major League Baseball that blocks its players from the South American country’s winter league under strict U.S. sanctions against the socialist government.

The Venezuelan Professional Baseball League on Tuesday said it’s asking the U.S. Treasury for an exception. Major League Baseball announced last week that its players are banned from the Venezuelan Winter League, citing the economic sanctions.

Eight teams in the Venezuelan league say the MLB’s ban was made against their interests and the nation’s passion for baseball.

U.S. officials in early August announced a new, broad round of economic measures blocking companies and individuals from doing business with Venezuela’s socialist President Nicolás Maduro.

Venezuela’s state-owned oil company, known as PDVSA, has been a major sponsor of the nation’s professional baseball league.

The Venezuelan Winter League is one many that major league players use to hone their skills in the offseason.