Joe Girardi, a longtime MLB catcher and former New York Yankees manager, will be at the helm as the U.S. tries to qualify for the first Olympic baseball tournament since 2008.
Girardi will manage at the World Baseball Softball Confederation Premier12 in November, 35 years after he was among the last cuts for the 1984 Olympic team when baseball was a demonstration sport.
“B.J. Surhoff wound up being the starting catcher,” Girardi said, according to MLB.com. “That was a wise choice on their part. I still remember seeing all those great players there. I was disappointed that I didn’t make the team, but I understood.”
Two nations from the 12-team field — the top finisher from the Americas and the top finisher from Asia/Oceania — will become the first 2020 Olympic baseball qualifiers, joining automatic entry host Japan.
If the U.S. fails to grab that spot at Premier12, it can still qualify at a last-chance Americas tournament in February.
Girardi is not guaranteed to be the U.S. manager at the Olympics, should the Americans qualify. The last two U.S. Olympic managers were Davey Johnson in 2008 and Tommy Lasorda in 2000.
The U.S. baseball team for Premier12 is expected to be made up of minor-leaguers. The same is expected for a 2020 Olympic team, though the selection process hasn’t been announced. MLB has never interrupted its season or sent players from 25-man rosters to the Olympics.
No players from MLB 40-man rosters are eligible for Premier12, according to USA Baseball.
The 2020 Olympic field will include six nations, down from eight at the 2008 Beijing Games, the last Olympics for baseball and softball as they were voted off the Olympic program.
Baseball and softball will not be on the 2024 Paris Olympic program but could return for the 2028 Los Angeles Games.
The U.S. earned three medals at the five Olympic baseball tournaments from 1992 through 2008, including gold in 2000. Its alumni include Stephen Strasburg, Jason Giambi and Nomar Garciaparra.
In 1984, the U.S. roster included Mark McGwire, Barry Larkin and Will Clark.
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