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Simone Biles flips, twists, throws first pitch at World Series Game 2

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Simone Biles showed off the talent that’s earned her 25 world gymnastics championships medals, backflipping (with a twist) before throwing the ceremonial first pitch before Game 2 of the World Series between the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals on Wednesday night.

“Gymnastics is the only sport I’ve ever done, so when it comes to anything else, I’m literally terrified,” she said before the pitch. “So I get more nervous doing this stuff than competing, which is really weird. So, yeah, hopefully I don’t end up on celebrity fails.”

Biles was born in Columbus but moved to Texas at age 3 and was raised in the Houston suburb of Spring. She still lives and trains in the Houston area.

Biles previously threw an acrobatic first pitch at an Astros game in July 2016, one month before she won four gold medals at the Rio Olympics.

Also Wednesday, Marlen Esparza, a Houston native who in 2012 became the first U.S. Olympic women’s boxing medalist, was scheduled to call “Play Ball!” before the game.

Other Olympians could be in the running for World Series appearances. Swimming gold medalists Simone Manuel and Katie Ledecky are from the Houston and D.C. areas, respectively.

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MORE: Simone Biles reveals one thing she can’t do: wear all medals at once

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Justin Morneau nixes Olympic baseball qualifying return

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Justin Morneau, the 2006 AL MVP with the Minnesota Twins, was taken off Canada’s Olympic baseball qualifying roster before he would have played his first competitive game in more than two years.

Morneau, 38, experienced an unspecified setback in training and was replaced on Canada’s roster for next month’s Premier12. The global tournament marks the first opportunity for many world baseball powers to qualify for the sport’s return to the Olympics.

Morneau never played in the Olympics before baseball was cut from the Games after 2008; active MLB players have never competed in the Games. But he was on Canada’s roster at all four World Baseball Classics from 2006 through 2017.

At November’s Premier12, the top nation from North and South America will qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. Japan and Israel are already qualified. Those that do not qualify will get another chance next year.

Morneau could become the second Major League Baseball MVP to play Olympic baseball as a medal sport. The other was Jason Giambi, who made the U.S. team in 1992, the same summer he was drafted in the second round by the Oakland Athletics.

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MORE: Joe Girardi replaced as U.S. baseball manager by World Series champion

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Randolph, Brosius join coaching staff for USA Baseball in Premier12

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Manager Joe Girardi rounded out the USA Baseball coaching staff on Tuesday for the Premier12, a tournament that will qualify two teams for the 2020 Olympics.

READ: Girardi named Olympic manager, 35 years after missing roster cut

Scott Brosius, the 1998 World Series MVP and a longtime coach and administrator with USA Baseball, will be the bench coach. Another USA Baseball veteran, bullpen coach Roly de Armas, will be a national team assistant for the 10th time. He also has 31 years of experience in professional baseball and is currently the manager of the Phillies East in the Gulf Coast League at the Rookie level.

Former Yankees second baseman and Mets manager Willie Randolph, who managed the national team in the 2015 Premier12 and was a coach on the championship team in the 2017 World Baseball Classic, will be the third-base coach, across the diamond from Ernie Young, a player on the 2000 Olympic gold medal-winning team who managed the national team in 2010 and 2011.

READ: Young and teammates recall unlikely run to gold

Hitting coach Phil Plantier and pitching coach Bryan Price are new to the national team staff. Plantier has managed in the minor leagues and served as a hitting coach with the San Diego Padres. Price was a major league pitching coach for 13 years and then the manager of the Cincinnati Reds.

The U.S. team will play the Netherlands, host Mexico and the Dominican Republic, starting Nov. 2. The top two teams from the group will advance to the six-team Super Round in Japan.

The top finisher from the Americas region and the top finisher from Asia/Oceania (except Japan, which has an automatic bid as host) will qualify for the Olympic baseball tournament. Teams from the Americas that fail to clinch an Olympic berth in the Premier12 will have to try again in the Americas Olympic qualifier in early 2020. The top team from that event will qualify, while the second- and third-place teams will play in a last-chance qualifier later in 2020.

The U.S. won silver in the first Premier12 tournament in 2015. Major League Baseball did not allow players on their teams’ 40-man rosters to participate, and three players had to be dropped from the roster before the final because they were promoted in their professional organizations. MLB players are once again expected to be ineligible in this year’s event.

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