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With baseball silver, USA's Eddy Alvarez makes history as Summer and Winter Olympics medalist

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TOKYO — Eddy Alvarez's silver medal sits in a safety deposit box somewhere. The hardware will have a friend joining it in there soon.

The moment pitcher Anthony Carter snagged a liner back to the mound for the final out of the United States' 7-2 victory over South Korea on Thursday in the semifinals, Alvarez became a part of Olympic history.

It meant the starting second baseman has done something six people have ever accomplished – win a medal at the Summer and Winter Olympics. The U.S. baseball team lost in the gold-medal game, 2-0, to host country Japan on Saturday at Yokohama Baseball Stadium.

"Feels like déjà vu. Just as heavy as the other one. Same color. A little bit of a different design," Alvarez said. "But it’s still an incredible journey, an incredible experience, a great group of guys I’ve created a bond with for the rest of my life so I can’t wait to enjoy this moment back home."

Only six others have accomplished the feat. Americans Eddie Egan (1920 – boxing, 1932 – four-man bobsled) and Lauryn Williams (2004 – 100-meter sprint, 2012 – 4x100 relay, 2014 – two-woman bobsled) are two of those on the list.

Alvarez, 31, won a silver medal at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi as a member of the 5,000-meter speed skating short-track squad.

"It’s a tough pill to swallow, when you come so close to winning and you fall short," Alvarez said of his silver medals. "At the same time, it’s one of those things that I know will hit me eventually, of how incredible and blessed I am to be a part of this."

For Alvarez, the son of Cuban immigrants who was raised in Miami, Florida, it was a journey he said started 25 years earlier.

"It’s hard to describe it. It’s bittersweet, but at the same time it’s like an unbelievable feeling because I know how much sacrifice and time I put in myself, and my family. I don’t know if it’s hit me yet," he said. "I think getting closer to home it’ll start hitting me."

Team USA infielder Eddy Alvarez (2) drives in a run with a ground out against Korea during the sixth inning in a baseball semifinal match during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games at Yokohama Baseball Stadium.
Team USA infielder Eddy Alvarez (2) drives in a run with a ground out against Korea during the sixth inning in a baseball semifinal match during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games at Yokohama Baseball Stadium.

Asked if his prior Olympics experience would make a difference in Japan, USA Baseball manager Mike Scioscia quipped last month: "His Olympic experience was with skates on, so I don’t know how much that translates."

Scioscia added that "there’s a lot of detail in Eddy," and that a Miami-born speed-skater was an interesting combination. Regardless of the team's results in Japan, it wouldn't take anything away from Alvarez's previous accolades, the skipper said.

"I think what he has accomplished so far is extraordinary," he said. "I know that he’s excited in getting us to our goal."

Now they are one game away from reaching that goal and standing at the top of the podium.

A CLOSER LOOK: Eddy Alvarez is about to etch his name in U.S. Olympic history

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Before the Games, Alvarez said he hoped his journey with USA Baseball would be redemptive. Listening to another country's anthem while receiving his medal left a bittersweet taste in his mouth.

Sometimes, Sochi felt a little overwhelming, he admitted. His current teammates' questions made him feel like the Team USA information desk.

"A lot of it is setting time aside," he advised his countrymen.

Time to sleep. Time to eat. Time to travel to venues.

Alvarez, who made his MLB debut during the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign with his hometown Miami Marlins, has hit either second or leadoff in all five games of the tournament, went 6-for-24 (.250) with four runs scored and three RBI while playing a solid second base.

In Sochi, he weighed 150 pounds and since has added about 30 pounds of muscle to his upper-body. Alvarez counts Williams as a friend. To join her company would be an honor, he said.

"I didn’t know I was going to make it this far," he said about a week before the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee named him a flag-bearer for the opening ceremony alongside women's basketball star Sue Bird.

"It’s been pretty cool. When someone meets me it’s ‘Oh, you’re the flag-bearer guy!’ It’s a really cool title to have, to say that I was the first baseball player ever," Alvarez said. "I earned a lot of titles this trip. I’ll have to keep up with them. I’m just so honored I got the chance to represent our country."

"I was always willing to put in the work, the sacrifice, to do so. For me to potentially be a part of that exclusive group, that would be a dream come true."

And then it did.

"Once I retired from skating, never in my wildest dreams did I think I would have the chance to come back to the Olympics," Alvarez said. "That one hurt, when I did drop the skates, just to not ever be a part of this movement again. But then I got the second chance, and boy was I happy."

Follow Chris Bumbaca on Twitter @BOOMbaca.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Eddy Alvarez makes history in Tokyo with Winter, Summer Olympics medal