U.S. Olympic baseball roster includes MLB All-Stars, Winter Olympian

Eddy Alvarez
Getty Images

Baseball returns to the Olympic program for the first time in 13 years, but the first U.S. Olympic baseball team since 2008 includes a player with Olympic experience.

Eddy Alvarez, a 2014 Winter Olympic silver medalist in short track speed skating, is set to become the 11th American to compete in both the Summer and Winter Games.

Alvarez, an infielder in the Miami Marlins system, is a headliner on a 24-man roster made up mostly of minor leaguers.

The roster is split with 12 pitchers and 12 position players.

Past MLB All-Stars are also headed to Tokyo: infielder Todd Frazier and pitchers Edwin Jackson, Scott Kazmir and David Robertson.

The U.S. manager is Mike Scioscia, the former, longtime Los Angeles Angels skipper.

Active major leaguers have never participated in the Olympics as MLB does not take a break in its season. Baseball debuted as a medal sport at the 1992 Barcelona Games.

This is the first time a U.S. Olympic baseball roster includes a past MLB All-Star; 14 of the 24 players have MLB experience.

Alvarez and Frazier are joined in the infield by Nick AllenTriston Casas and Jamie Westbrook, with Tyler AustinEric Filia, Patrick Kivlehan and Bubba Starling in the outfield. Jack Lopez will serve in a utility role.

Tim Federowicz and Mark Kolozsvary feature as catchers, managing the pitching staff of Shane BazAnthony CarterBrandon DicksonAnthony Gose, Jackson, Kazmir, Nick MartinezScott McGough, Robertson, Joe RyanRyder Ryan and Simeon Woods-Richardson.

Nineteen of the 24 have previously played for USA Baseball. Kivlehan was on the team that took silver at the 2015 Pan American Games.

The most notable missing name is Adam Jones, a five-time MLB All-Star now playing in Japan’s domestic league.

Jones expressed interest in the Olympics, but was not on the roster for a qualifying tournament in Florida last month as he plays on the other side of the world. Japan’s league, unlike MLB, takes a break in its season to allow its best players to take part in the Tokyo Games.

“Adam was absolutely considered for this roster,” Scioscia said Friday. “All these guys are still considered. We’ve got a pool of players if something happens [to any rostered player] in this next week.”

Baseball and softball were taken off the Olympic program following the 2008 Beijing Games. When IOC members voted baseball out — 54-50 was the tally — one of the strikes against it was a lack of MLB participation.

The U.S. won Olympic gold in 2000, and bronze in 1996 and 2008.

Baseball is back after a rule change that allowed a host nation to propose additional sports for its Games. Baseball and softball, popular in Japan, were confirmed in 2016 for the Tokyo Olympic program (along with karate, skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing).

Baseball will not be on the 2024 Paris Olympic program, but it could be added for the 2028 Los Angeles Games.

The U.S. qualified for the Olympics in early June, capping a two-year journey.

The rest of the six-team Olympic baseball field: host Japan, Mexico, South Korea, Israel and the Dominican Republic.

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Ukraine officials say athletes should not compete in Olympic qualifiers with Russians

Ukraine Russia Fencing

The Ukraine government decided that its athletes should not compete in 2024 Olympic qualifying events if Russians are present, according to several media reports in Ukraine.

“At a meeting of the government, a protocol decision was made on the proposal of colleague (sports minister Vadym) Guttsait that we take part in qualifying competitions only where there are no Russians,” government minister Oleh Nemchinov said Thursday, according to a Reuters translation of a Ukraine public broadcaster report. “Accordingly, participation outside these criteria may be grounds for depriving federations of their national status.”

Guttsait is also the president of Ukraine’s National Olympic Committee. A message was sent to the committee late Thursday seeking comment.

On Tuesday, the IOC updated its recommendations for the possible participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes in international competition. Previously, the IOC recommended no Russians or Belarusians be allowed to compete.

Tuesday’s update called for strict measures should international sports federations decide to readmit Russians and Belarusians who do not actively support the war as neutral athletes.

“I want to tell our fellow athletes who are worried that due to the IOC measures and the admission of Russians or Belarusians to competitions, and accordingly Ukrainians will not be able to participate, that their careers will be broken,” Nemchinov said, according to the Reuters translation of the public broadcaster report. “But your life and that of your children will remain.”

The International Fencing Federation (FIE) decided earlier in March that it planned to readmit Russians and Belarusians starting in the second half of April, which is also when the 2024 Olympic qualifying period begins in that sport.

Most other international federations for Summer Olympic sports are so far still barring Russians and Belarusians. Some have said they are considering the IOC’s updated recommendations as they consider their positions.

After Nemchinov’s reported comments, the Ukraine fencing federation press secretary announced late Thursday that its fencers will not compete against Russians.

“Ukrainian fencers will not only refuse to compete against Russian and Belarusian athletes but will not participate in events of any level where Russian or Belarusian athletes will be competing,” the press secretary said in an email.

Ukraine won at least one fencing medal at each of the last five Olympics.

“We are all professionals, and if I will fence, which can be or cannot, I think I will be professional,” Ukrainian fencer Olga Kharlan, a four-time Olympic medalist and a four-time individual world champion, said Wednesday regarding a possible boycott. “As a Ukrainian citizen, it’s tough to even imagine how to stand next to [Russians], to know that they’re supporting or they’re in silence and we haven’t heard any word from them or we know that they represent army that shelling Ukraine every day.”

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Wimbledon reverses ban on Russia, Belarus tennis players

Wimbledon Russia

Russian and Belarusian players will be able to compete at Wimbledon as neutral athletes after the All England Club on Friday reversed its ban from last year.

The players must sign declarations of neutrality and comply with “appropriate conditions,” including not expressing support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“This was an incredibly difficult decision, not taken lightly or without a great deal of consideration for those who will be impacted,” All England Club chairman Ian Hewitt said in a statement.

The players cannot receive funding from the Russian or Belarusian states, including sponsorship from companies operated or controlled by the states.

Those impacted include Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus and Russian players Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev.

Other tennis tournaments have allowed Russian and Belarusian players to compete as neutral athletes.

“We also consider alignment between the Grand Slams to be increasingly important in the current tennis environment,” the club said.

The same conditions will apply for Lawn Tennis Association tournaments used by players as grass-court warmups for the sport’s oldest Grand Slam tournament.

The women’s and men’s professional tennis tours last year imposed heavy fines on the LTA and threatened to pull its tournaments. The ATP and WTA had also responded to last year’s ban by not awarding ranking points for Wimbledon — an unprecedented move against the prestigious event.

“There was a strong and very disappointing reaction from some governing bodies in tennis to the position taken by the All England Club and the LTA last year with consequences which, if continued, would be damaging to the interests of players, fans, The Championships and British tennis,” the club said.

This year’s Wimbledon tournament will start on July 3. The women’s final is scheduled for July 15 and the men’s final on July 16.

The All England Club said the conditions were developed through talks with the British government, the LTA and “international stakeholder bodies in tennis.”

The club’s statement described “personal player declarations” but didn’t provide details. The LTA said the players and support staff “will be required to sign neutrality declarations” similar to those used in other sports.

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