So the U.S. Olympic team got Jayson Nix this weekend when the Rockies designated him for assignment, getting him back to the minor leagues and therefore eligible for Team USA. No offense to Nix, though, but this was a poor weekend for Team USA overall.
The American Olympic roster was just named Wednesday, but it’s already lost three players from its 24-man squad to big league promotions. The Rangers called up catcher Taylor Teagarden, which wasn’t a huge surprise given their catching injuries and Teagarden’s advancement to Triple-A. The U.S. could just add the player Teagarden beat out, Cardinals farmhand Bryan Anderson, who played for the national team last November in the World Cup. There’s also a chance Teagarden could be sent back down and still make the trip, though he’d have to be back in the minors this week.
But the other two losses actually might be tougher to replace, as two of the three lefthanded pitchers on the squad were promoted. The White Sox called up leftander Clayton Richard, who has won all six of his starts at Triple-A Charlotte, while the Giants added lefty Eugene Espineli, a mild shock considering he wasn’t even on the Giants’ 40-man roster. However, Espineli had also been pitching well at Triple-A Fresno, posting a 2.06 ERA and not allowing a home run in 52 innings.
It’s just three players; none is indespensible for Team USA’s gold-medal chances. But it’s amazing that teams would make players available to Team USA when they were being considered for big league promotions.
When USA Baseball gets the players it wants, it usually succeeds in international play; when it doesn’t, well, it doesn’t. Let’s see who Bob Watson and company can get to replace Espineli, Richard and Teagarden; USA Baseball has names in mind but did not want them public Sunday night.
It will be another tell in how Major League Baseball’s franchises regard the Olympics. Right now, signs point to "not well."