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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Eddy Alvarez, Olympic short track medalist, to play for Miami Marlins

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Eddy Alvarez realized his MLB dream, six years after earning a Winter Olympic medal, and during a global pandemic that affected his club more than any other U.S. professional sports franchise.

Alvarez, a 2014 U.S. Olympic short track speed skating medalist, is being added to the Miami Marlins roster for Tuesday’s restart of their abbreviated season, president of baseball operations Mike Hill said Monday, according to Marlins beat reporters.

The 30-year-old was among a group added after as many as 18 Marlins tested positive for the coronavirus last week, forcing the club to cancel seven games.

Alvarez is believed to be the first U.S. Winter Olympian to become a Major League Baseball player.

He may be the second Olympic medalist in a sport other than baseball to make it to the majors, joining Jim Thorpe. (Michael Jordan tried to do so with the Chicago White Sox, playing Double-A in 1994, but returned to the Chicago Bulls in 1995.)

Alvarez, a Miami native, played baseball in high school and at Salt Lake Community College before focusing on short track in 2012 for a 2014 Olympic run.

He came back from missing the 2010 Olympic team and surgeries on both knees, reportedly leaving him immobile and bedpan dependent for four to six weeks, to make the Sochi Winter Games. Eddy the Jet earned a silver medal in the 5000m relay.

Then Alvarez returned to baseball after three years away. He signed a minor-league contract with the Chicago White Sox in June 2014. He worked his way through the minors between that franchise and the Marlins system.

Alvarez was a Kannapolis Intimidator, a New Orleans Baby Cake and a Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp.

Now, he’s a big leaguer.

“It definitely was a chance, picking up a kid who hasn’t played in three years who is starting at the age of 24,” Alvarez said in 2014. “It’s not your typical story, but I play like a 17-year-old kid. I’m running around everywhere. I’m diving around everywhere. I’m full of life. I definitely see my progression moving at a rapid pace.”

MORE: What Olympic baseball, softball return looks like in 2021

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When Mark McGwire played at the Olympics

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Mark McGwire may be the most famous Olympic baseball player.

McGwire, then a 20-year-old who had yet to play a professional game (and 25 years before he admitted to steroid use in the 1990s), beat out Will Clark for the starting first base job on the 1984 U.S. Olympic team.

McGwire, Clark and Barry Larkin turned out to be the biggest MLB stars from those Los Angeles Olympics, where American players were recent collegians. Larkin remains the only MLB Hall of Famer with Olympic experience.

Tryouts included more than 3,000 candidates — from a 12-year-old girl to a 43-year-old man — scattered across 63 open one-day tryouts in fall 1983, according to Sports Illustrated.

McGwire, who went 4 for 21 in five Olympic games, and the U.S. lost in the final of that Olympic baseball tournament to Japan at Dodger Stadium.

“I don’t really remember,” much about the Olympics, McGwire said in 2014. “I remember I didn’t do very well.”

Though McGwire said in 2014 that he has a medal, baseball was merely a demonstration sport at those Games, hoping to join the official Olympic medal program.

“It was like a World Series atmosphere, for never being in a World Series at the time,” McGwire said of playing in front of a reported crowd of 55,235 in the night-time Olympic final. “Now I know what a World Series is like. But it was awesome, it really was. A packed house.”

The IOC approved baseball as a medal sport starting with the 1992 Barcelona Games and running through Beijing in 2008, but big leaguers never participated as MLB never took a break in its season.

Baseball returns to the Olympic program next year in Tokyo but will not be played at the 2024 Paris Games. It could be added for the Los Angeles Olympics in 2028.

“It was a great honor,” McGwire said. “Unfortunately, I wish I could say that I had a gold medal for it.”

MORE: ‘Derek Jeter of Japan’ set to star at Tokyo Olympics

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