For the first time since the angels left three years ago, Mike Skosia is back on the bench.
Scioscia was chosen Tuesday as the manager of the US team seeking to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics.
Although nine former managers have been appointed to the major league by clubs since Scioscia last coached the Angels’ owners, he has said he has not accepted the Team USA job to improve his appearance in another major league position.
“I don’t expect to train in majors,” he said. “This is my decision.”
The United States is one of 12 countries competing for the final two places at the Olympic Baseball Championships in Tokyo. Host Mexico, Israel, South Korea and Japan have already qualified. The United States should win one of two qualifying tournaments in June, with the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Puerto Rico and Venezuela only occupying the field in the first tournament.
“I’m excited about the challenge,” Scioscia said.
The first challenge is convincing the major league teams to allow younger players to play for the USA team during the minor league season. Teams are often reluctant to allow their best prospects to play, for fear of potential injury or overuse of the shooter.
Scioscia said it received a positive response in its initial conversations with teams.
“They see an opportunity to advance with some players in this kind of difficult situation,” he said. “These are playoff matches. You will play these games with all the strength you will need if you are in a playoff match in the main league or in the flag race.”
USA Team can also have recently retired players. Adrien Gonzalez, the five-time first player of the All Star team, hopes to play for Mexico. Four-time runner-up Ian Kinsler has pledged to play for Israel.
Scioscia is a three-time World Series champion, as a recipient of Team Dodgers in 1981 and 1988, and as Director of the Angels in 2002. His 1,650 victories as major league manager, all in the nineteen seasons he spent with the Angels, ranked 19th on the list all the times.
Tommy LaSorda, the former Dodgers coach who played for Scioscia, led the USA team to gold at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Scioscia said he had never seen Lasorda cry when the Dodgers won the World Series, but tears burst out after his US team won the gold.
“Tommy meant the world,” said Scosia. “With everything he accomplished with the Dodgers, there was a special place in his heart to win that gold.”
Scioscia, 62, says he’s been busy working with MLB developing amateur baseball and playing golf, and for the past two weeks, enjoying the grandson.
He said, “Really very spoiled girl.”
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