Adrian Gonzalez
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Adrian Gonzalez the latest MLB All-Star eyeing baseball’s Olympic return

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Adrian Gonzalez, a five-time All-Star first baseman who last played in 2018, wants to play for Mexico in baseball’s Olympic return in Tokyo next summer.

“I’m not trying to come back to MLB, but I do want to play one last tournament in my career which would be the Olympics for Team Mexico,” Gonzalez said on Los Angeles’ ABC affiliate on Tuesday. “That’s something that I can put on that bucket list. And not a lot of people in baseball will ever have that experience.”

Gonzalez, who was born in San Diego and lived in Tijuana growing up, played for Mexico in all four World Baseball Classics dating to 2006. The plan, which he previously mentioned in April, is to play in a Mexican league next year ahead of a potential Olympic selection.

Mexico qualified for an Olympic baseball tournament for the first time last November by beating the U.S. at a global qualifier. Mexico joined Japan, Israel and South Korea in the Olympic field. The U.S. has up to two more chances to qualify.

Baseball returns to the Games for the first time since it was voted off the Olympic program following the 2008 Beijing Games. Baseball will not be on the Paris 2024 program but could return again for Los Angeles 2028.

Gonzalez joins fellow All-Stars Adam Jones (U.S.), Ian Kinsler (Israel) and Jose Bautista (Dominican Republic) in expressing interest in Olympic baseball.

None are currently on MLB rosters, which is key as it’s believed that MLB players will not participate in the Olympics, per the policy in baseball’s previous Olympic medal sport stint from 1992 through 2008.

It’s believed that two players with prior MLB All-Star experience competed at the Olympics for any nation — Australian catcher Dave Nilsson and Canadian pitcher Jason Dickson.

Many players competed at the Olympics before making an MLB All-Star team, including Stephen Strasburg and Jason Giambi.

MORE: Baseball head pitches Olympics to MLB, again

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U.S. women’s soccer team plays Mexico with Olympics at stake

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All that stands between the U.S. women’s soccer team and a seventh straight Olympic berth is Mexico.

The Americans and Mexicans meet in the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament semifinals on Friday in Carson, Calif. The winner goes to Tokyo. The loser is eliminated from Olympic qualifying.

While the U.S. and Mexico have a fierce rivalry in men’s soccer, the U.S. women dominate the neighbors to the south. The Americans own a 36-1-1 record in the all-time series.

That one loss was memorable. It came in 2011 World Cup qualifying, forcing the U.S. into must-wins against Costa Rica and Italy to grab the last spot in the World Cup.

The U.S., ranked No. 1 in the world, rolled into the semifinals.

It won its three group-stage matches by a combined 18-0 against world No. 37 Costa Rica, No. 68 Panama and No. 72 Haiti. All time, the U.S. is 18-0 in Olympic qualifying with a goal differential of 106-1 (not counting matches played after it already clinched qualification).

The U.S. roster, with 18 of its 20 players coming from the 2019 World Cup champion team, is here.

Mexico is ranked 26th in the world and once qualified out of CONCACAF and into the Olympics — in 2004. It did qualify for the 2011 and 2015 World Cups, but has never won a match at either major tournament.

It did well to reach the semifinals, beating Jamaica and St. Kitts and Nevis before falling to Canada 2-0 on Tuesday. Canada, ranked eighth in the world, gets Costa Rica in the other winner-to-Tokyo semifinal on Friday.

Sunday’s final has no bearing on Olympic qualification.

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Mexico snatches Olympic baseball spot from U.S., which must now wait

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The U.S. was three outs from clinching a spot in the first Olympic baseball tournament in 12 years. Instead, Mexico will play for an Olympic baseball medal for the first time, forcing the Americans to wait until March.

The Mexicans scored once in the ninth inning and walked off in the 10th, taking a winner-goes-to-the-Olympics game 3-2 at the Premier12 at the Tokyo Dome on Sunday.

Mexico joined Japan, Israel and South Korea in the six-team 2020 Olympic baseball tournament. Baseball returns to the Games in July for the first time since it was voted off the Olympic program following the 2008 Beijing Games. Baseball will not be on the Paris 2024 program but could return again for Los Angeles 2028.

Mexico, managed by former MLB infielder Juan Castro, rallied to deny what would have been an improbable U.S. run to the lone Olympic berth available for teams from the Americas at Premier12.

The U.S. needed four straight game results to go its way to remain in Olympic qualifying contention. From Wednesday through Saturday, the U.S. beat Chinese Taipei, Japan and South Korea beat Mexico and Chinese Taipei beat Australia.

On Sunday, the Americans were up 2-1 in the ninth inning. They were in prime position to qualify for the Olympics for the fifth time in six tries since it was added as a medal event in 1992.

Then Mexican designated hitter Matt Clark, who played for the U.S. at the 2011 Pan American Games and for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2014, smacked a home run to lead off the bottom of the ninth. In extra innings, runners are placed on first and second to start each half-inning. Efren Navarro ended the game in the 10th on a walk-off single.

While Mexico celebrates its first Olympic baseball berth, the U.S. focus shifts to an Americas qualifier in March in Arizona (and, if necessary, a final, global qualifying event in Chinese Taipei).

The roster at Premier12 included many double-A and triple-A prospects, but it remains to be seen how MLB clubs will go about releasing minor leaguers for a tournament that will take place during spring training.

“That’ll be a delicate dance,” U.S. general manager Eric Campbell said before Premier12.

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