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River Cats Lefty Kazmir Joins US Olympic Baseball Squad

NEW YORK (AP/CBS13) — A Sacramento River Cats player was one of a dozen pitchers named to the 2021 USA Olympic Baseball Team.

Scott Kazmir, the 37-year-old River Cats left-hander, got the call as the U.S. tries for its first Olympic baseball gold medal since 2000.

Though, two of the Tampa Bay Rays' young arms will share much of the burden.

Shane Baz, a 22-year-old Double-A right-hander, was added to the 24-man roster to join 25-year-old Triple-A righty Joe Ryan. They will be starting pitchers for manager Mike Scioscia's team in Japan along with Toronto right-hander Simeon Woods Richardson and former Texas right-hander Nick Martinez, now with Fukuoka in Japan.

"You look at Tampa's future and you look at these two guys if they develop to their potential on the mound, that team's going to be good for a while," Scioscia said.

Kazmir could be his fifth starter, and outfielder Bubba Starling was also among 10 additions Friday.

They joined a group from qualifying led by third baseman Todd Frazier, relievers Edwin Jackson and David Robertson, and Miami infielder Eddy Alvarez, a 2014 silver medalist in short-track speedskating.

Major League Baseball does not allow players on 40-man rosters to participate in the Olympics and many teams discourage top eligible prospects from playing.

Infielder Luke Williams, the top American hitter in qualifying, was called up by Philadelphia, and right-hander James Sherfy was brought to the major leagues by San Francisco right after the qualifying tournament.

"We made some necessary just because players have moved around," Scioscia said.

Outfielder Jarren Duran, who hit .368 in qualifying, wasn't allowed by Boston to go to Japan.

"General managers have been incredibly receptive to understanding what the experience is for a lot of their young players, but first and foremost they have to account for their own team and their own organization," Scioscia said.

St. Louis blocked 22-year-old left-hander Matthew Liberatore, who started twice in qualifying but instead will go to the All-Star Futures Game at Coors Field on July 11.

"They have him on track for what they need to go in their organization. We respect that," Scoscia said.

Also added were Yakult right-hander Scott McGough and Yokohama outfielder Tyler Austin, who will be playing on his home field for the Olympics. Orix outfielder Adam Jones was not picked.

Just three of the 24 players are among the top 100 prospects.

Baz, a 22-year-old right-hander taken 12th overall by Pittsburgh in the 2017 amateur draft, is 3-4 with a 2.12 ERA for Double-A Montgomery and Triple-A Durham, striking out 69 in 46 2/3 innings.

Woods Richardson and Boston infielder Triston Casas, were on the U.S. team that beat Venezuela 4-2 on June 5 to earn one of the six Olympic berths.

Woods Richardson, 20, is 2-1 with a 4.68 ERA and 50 strikeouts in 27 2/3 innings for Double-A New Hampshire. His start in qualifying, the group stage finale against Puerto Rico, was rained out after he allowed one run and four hits in four innings.

Casas, 21, is batting .275 with four homers and 23 RBIs for Double-A Portland. He hit .400 (6 for 15) with three RBIs in the qualifying tournament.

Kazmir was 0-1 with a 6.43 ERA in two starts and one relief appearance for San Francisco, then was sent outright to Triple-A Sacramento on June 11. He is 2-0 with a 2.66 ERA this year in the minors.

Starling, 28, hit .169 with one homer and five RBIs for Kansas City in 2020 and is batting .271 with seven homers and 17 RBIs this season for Triple-A Omaha.

Frazier, released by Pittsburgh in May after going 3 for 35, was the star of the qualifying tournament. The 35-year-old third baseman was 4 for 4 with a home run and an RBI double in the final. He was 6 for 15 (.400) with two homers and five RBIs in the four games of the Americas tournament.

Robertson, 36 allowed one run over two innings in qualifying. Jackson, 37, allowed one run in 2 2/3 innings.

Among those dropped who had been on the qualifying roster were right-handers Homer Bailey and DJ Johnson; left-handers Trevor Lane, Drew Parrish and Marc Rzepczynski; infielders Logan Forsythe and Luke Williams; and outfielders Jon Jay and Matt Kemp.

Matt Wieters, cut from the qualifying roster just before the Americas tournament, also was not included.

The U.S. opens Group B against Israel on July 30 and plays defending champion South Korea the following day. The group includes host Japan, Dominican Republic and Mexico.

The group stage determines seeding for the double-elimination knockout stage, which starts Aug. 1. The gold medal and bronze medal games are Aug. 7.

Japan, whose roster features former New York Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka and Yomiuri Giants ace Tomoyuki Sugano is the tournament favorite.

Baseball was dropped from the Olympics after 2008, was restored for this year and is being dropped again for the 2024 Paris Games. It is expected to be added for 2028 in Los Angeles.

Before heading to the Olympics, the U.S. will play exhibitions in Cary, North Carolina, on July 18 and 20 around a game in Durham.

The roster:

Right-handed pitchers: Shane Baz (Tampa Bay), Anthony Carter (Saraperos de Saltillo, Mexico), Brandon Dickson (St. Louis), Edwin Jackson, Nick Martinez (Fukuoka, Japan), Scott McGough (Yakult, Japan), David Robertson, Joe Ryan (Tampa Bay), Ryder Ryan (Texas), Simeon Woods Richardson; (Toronto)

Left-handed pitchers: Anthony Gose (Cleveland), Scott Kazmir (San Francisco)

Catchers: Tim Federowicz (LA Dodgers), Mark Kolozsvary (Cincinnati)

Infielders: Nick Allen (Oakland), Eddy Alvarez (Miami), Triston Casas (Boston), Todd Frazier, Jack Lopez (Boston), Jamie Westbook (Milwaukee)

Outfielders: Tyler Austin (Yokohama, Japan), Eric Filia (Seattle), Patrick Kivlehan (San Diego), Bubba Starling (Kansas City)

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