Olympic speed skater Eddy Alvarez pursuing baseball, signs with White Sox

Mark Townsend
Olympic speed skater Eddy Alvarez pursuing baseball, signs with White Sox

U.S. speed skater Eddy Alvarez already lived one dream this year. The Miami native became the first Cuban American male skater to make the Olympic team, and in doing so made his country proud, winning a silver medal in the 5,000-meter relay at the 2014 Games in Sochi. Now he's focused on making another dream come true.

According to PEOPLE, even before his days on skates, Alvarez wanted to pursue a career in professional baseball. On Wednesday, he took a big step toward making his dream a reality by signing a minor league deal with the Chicago White Sox.

Alvarez, 24, was an all-conference shortstop at Salt Lake Community College in 2011, where he hit .311/.390/.478 with 16 doubles, two homers, four triples, 46 RBIs and seven steals in 63 games. That shows he has some ability, but at that point he turned his attention back to skating, which paid off nicely just three months ago, but makes one wonder how much rust there might be as he brings his focus back to baseball.

With pen to paper, Alvarez and the White Sox will find out soon enough. The next step will be working out at the club's spring training facility in Arizona. From there, it will be determined how much seasoning his game needs and which level of minor league will be best suited for him to continue his pursuit.

Based on comments Alvarez made to MiLB.com in February, it probably won't matter much to him where he goes or how long the process takes to get there, he''ll just be ecstatic to have an opportunity.

"Baseball's just something that's always been a part of my family," he said. "My dad did it, my brother did it, I grew up doing it. It was before skating, too. I was 2 years old and already swinging bats and throwing balls. I knew that was something that I was going do."

The national pastime remained a focus through those early years and grew a bit when his brother, Nick, was selected by the Dodgers in the 26th round of the 2000 draft out of nearby St. Thomas University, an NAIA school. The outfielder/first baseman stayed mostly in state -- Class A Advanced Vero Beach in 2001-02, Double-A Jacksonville from 2003 to his final minor league season in 2006 -- and it was his youngest brother who tried to reap the rewards.

"He was my idol," Eddy Alvarez said. "We had a big age difference. We're 13 years apart. He would take me into the clubhouse when I was a kid, and I was able to practice with the team, shag with the team. It was really cool. He always kept that dream of mine alive in a way because I just wanted to be like him."

The family element only adds to an already interesting and potentially fun story.

As for his odds of making it to the highest level? It's certainly not uncommon to see modern day athletes ply their trade in multiple sports, but it takes a unique mindset and special physical traits to pull it off and excel. Greats such as Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders are the exception. They were able to balance football and baseball for a short time during their prime athletic years, but there's obviously a different challenge that awaits Alvarez.

The sheer amount of time he's had to commit to skating while pursuing the Olympic dream will put him behind the eight-ball. Even though their sports' seasons always overlapped, Jackson and Sanders at least had time to stay sharp and had the flexibility to move back and forth between sports. Alvarez has remained limited to skating, and he'll never be able to recover that lost time.

That said, he's obviously a terrific athlete and already has a notable baseball background. Also, he's committed to baseball now, so that should be his sole focus in the immediate future. So maybe he can defy the odds and hit the fast track on the diamond as well. If so, It would definitely make for a fun story.  

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!