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MLB commissioner ‘can’t imagine’ best baseball players in Olympics

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MIAMI (AP) — MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has repeated the sport’s opposition to having top major leaguers play at the Tokyo Olympics.

The 2020 Games are scheduled for July 24 to Aug. 9, and Major League Baseball has repeatedly said it will not interrupt its season.

The World Baseball Classic, co-owned by MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association, has been the sport’s alternative.

“I can’t imagine a situation where we would take the kind of break that would be necessary to have our best players in the Olympics,” Manfred said Monday during an All-Star Game town hall meeting. “As a result of that, we feel the WBC is crucial as a substitute, a premiere international tournament that allows our players to play for their countries.”

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International baseball chief ‘confident’ after Olympic talks with MLB

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A top international baseball official remains confident of MLB participation, in some form, at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics after the two sides met last week, according to a report.

“I am confident that we can find a positive solution with the MLB,” World Baseball Softball Confederation president Riccardo Fraccari said, according to “Around the Rings,” via Hardball Talk. “But I need to have more details.”

Fraccari has expressed confidence in MLB Olympic participation since baseball and softball were re-added to the Olympic program for 2020 last year, which will end an absence since 2008. MLB has never participated in the Olympics, but minor-league players have competed at the Games.

Fraccari said there will be another phase of discussions with MLB. The 2020 Olympic baseball tournament format and schedule must be finalized, according to “Around the Rings.”

Last month, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred repeated his skepticism of major leaguers at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

“There have not been any substantive discussions with the baseball and softball confederation about participation of major-league players in the 2020 Olympics,” Manfred said at the World Baseball Classic, according to the Japan Times. “I’m sure that those conversations will take place. We have not even been informed about what exactly the format of the event is going to be, how many days would be involved and whatnot.

“I am more than prepared to hear what the event is going to look like, describe to our owners what our options are with respect to participation in that type of event, and we’ll make a decision from there.”

Both Manfred and the MLB Players Association head have emphasized the difficulties in MLB participation in Tokyo 2020, most notably the fact that the Games take place during the MLB and minor-league seasons.

“The skepticism that you’ve heard from some relates to, no matter how you put the event together there would be a significant amount of major league players who would be away from their teams,” Manfred said in March, according to the newspaper. “It would alter the competition in our everyday game. I do not believe our owners would support some sort of a break in our season. Continuity is really important to our competition.”

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New MLB commissioner wants long-term baseball pledge from Olympics

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New MLB commissioner Rob Manfred is keeping the stance of predecessor Bud Selig that MLB will not interrupt its schedule to allow players to compete in the Olympics, if the sport is re-added for 2020, according to The Associated Press.

“The Olympics are a challenge because of the calendar,” Manfred said Thursday, according to the AP. “They are particularly a challenge when the site is halfway around the world and the date falls in the middle of our regular season.”

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics are slated from July 24-Aug. 9 in five years.

MLB players on 25-man rosters did not compete in the Olympics during the sport’s last stretch on the Olympic program, from 1992 through 2008, before it was dropped.

The sport could be re-added for Tokyo 2020 due to the International Olympic Committee’s Agenda 2020 reforms. A host city can propose sports to be added.

“Conceptually, I think it would be good for our game, for baseball generically defined, to be an Olympic sport,” Manfred said, according to the AP. “I know there is some interest in having a baseball event in the Tokyo Olympics because it’s so popular in that particular country. I think it would be a mistake for our sport to make an arrangement with the Olympics whereby we go in for Tokyo and not have some commitment that the Olympics were going to commit to baseball over the longer haul.”

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