Daily Times (Primos, PA)

Scioscia to manage U.S. in Olympic qualifying

- By Ronald Blum

Mike Scioscia has the tough task of reaching the Olympic baseball tournament with a U.S. roster likely to include players cut during spring training and prospects not needed by their clubs this summer.

Scioscia was hired Tuesday by USA Baseball as the third manager of the U.S. baseball team in this Olympic qualifying cycle and will try to get the Americans to the tournament in Japan this summer.

The former Los Angeles Angels manager will lead the U.S. at the pandemic-delayed second-chance qualifying event, the Baseball Americas Qualifier, to be played in June in Florida.

Only players not on 26-man major league rosters and injured lists will be eligible to play.

“I’m very, very comfortabl­e that we’re going to put together the type of team, particular­ly a pitching staff, that’s going to be able to carry us through a short series,” Scioscia said. “We’re going to look within and play the way we need to play with this group of guys.”

Scioscia said he has had a good response from general managers about making players available.

“There’s naturally guys that are on the roster or close to the roster that they’re going to hold tight for commonsens­e reasons,” he said. “But I think the response has been terrific. It is incumbent on every general manager of every team to worry about their organizati­on first, but that being said, the guys — I think the GMs recognize the great opportunit­y they have to move some players forward, and they’ve been very, very cooperativ­e.”

Joe Girardi quit as U.S. manager in October 2019 to pursue a major league managing job — he was hired by the Phillies — and Scott Brosius took over.

The U.S. was three outs from qualifying for the Olympics in November 2019 at the Premier12 tournament in Tokyo when Matt Clark hit a tying home run off former St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Brandon Dickson leading off the bottom of the ninth inning, Efren Navarro had a broken-bat single against Caleb Thielbar to drive in the winning run in the 10th and Mexico beat the United States 3-2 to reach its first Olympic baseball tournament.

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