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Matt Kemp is among several past MLB All-Stars, plus Winter Olympian Eddy Alvarez, vying for a place on the U.S. baseball team for Olympic qualifying that resumes next week.
Kemp, the 36-year-old, former Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder who is a free agent, is one of 28 men named Sunday to a training camp this week.
The final 26-man roster for a North and South America Olympic qualifying tournament in Florida will be named next Sunday, a day before the winner-to-Tokyo event starts. Baseball returns to the Olympic program for the first time since 2008, but will not remain on for the 2024 Paris Games.
Other past MLB All-Stars on the camp roster include catcher Matt Wieters, infielder Todd Frazier and pitchers Edwin Jackson and David Robertson, plus Homer Bailey, who threw two no-hitters for the Cincinnati Reds.
Alvarez, a 2014 U.S. Olympic short track speed skating silver medalist, became the first Winter Olympian to play in the majors last year with the Miami Marlins. He’s currently in Triple-A.
The full camp roster is here. None of them are current major leaguers. MLB has never sent active players to the Olympics.
All of the All-Stars in camp are 35 and older, foreshadowing an unusually veteran-laden team both for Olympic qualifying and, if the U.S. makes it, the Tokyo Games. The U.S. manager is Mike Scioscia, the former, longtime Los Angeles Angels skipper.
Since baseball became an Olympic medal sport in 1992, the U.S. teams were mostly NCAA players (1992 and 1996) or rising minor-league prospects (2000 and 2008). Pat Borders, a catcher on the 2000 team that won surprise gold, was the only American older than 32 to play Olympic baseball.
Nobody with prior MLB All-Star experience played for the U.S. at previous Olympics. Two did for other nations — Australian catcher Dave Nilsson and Canadian pitcher Jason Dickson.
But Tokyo could be different. Other All-Stars Adam Jones (U.S., who plays professionally in Japan), Ian Kinsler (Israel), Jose Bautista (Dominican Republic), Adrian Gonzalez (Mexico) and Masahiro Tanaka have expressed interest in Olympic baseball.
If the U.S. fails to qualify at the North and South America qualifier, it could get one more chance at a winner-to-Tokyo global tournament two weeks later.
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