PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (AP) — Catcher Matt Wieters has been dropped from the U.S. roster for Olympic baseball qualifying that starts Monday.
“He’ll be on our radar if we do get the opportunity to move forward,” U.S. manager Mike Scioscia said Sunday.
Wieters, a 35-year-old four-time All-Star, hit .200 (7 for 35) with no homers and four RBIs for the St. Louis Cardinals during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season and became a free agent.
Cutting Wieters left Tim Federowicz and Mark Kolozsvary as the catchers on the 26-man U.S. roster.
The U.S. opens Group A of the Baseball Americas qualifier on Monday against Nicaragua at Port St. Lucie, plays the Dominican Republic the next day at West Palm Beach and Puerto Rico on Wednesday at Port St. Lucie.
Scioscia said a left-hander will start for the U.S. on Monday, making the St. Louis Cardinals’ Matthew Libertore (0-3, 5.48 in four starts at Triple-A Memphis) or the Kansas City Royals’ Drew Parrish (1-0, 0.00 in one start and three relief appearances at High-A Quad Cities) the most likely alternatives.
“Anybody that’s been in Major League Baseball knows the playoffs are a different season, and we’re jumping into the playoffs from the first pitch of this tournament,” Scioscia said.
Carlos Teller, a 34-year-old left-hander with the Mexican club Aguascalientes, will start for Nicaragua.
Canada, Colombia, Cuba and Venezuela are in Group B.
Puerto Rico is managed by Juan Gonzalez, Nicaragua by Marvin Benard and Canada by Ernie Whitt.
The top two teams in each group advance to the super round on Friday and Saturday, and first-round results carry over. The top team from the super round joins Japan, Israel, Mexico and South Korea at the Olympic baseball tournament, to be played in Japan from July 28 to Aug. 7 in Fukushima and Yokohama.
Second- and third-place teams advance to a final qualifier in June in Mexico, which will include Australia, Netherlands and Taiwan.
Only players not on 26-man major league rosters and injured lists are eligible.
The U.S. was three outs from qualifying for the Olympics in November 2019 at the Premier12 tournament in Tokyo when it wasted a ninth-inning lead and lost to Mexico 3-2 in 10 innings.
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