Like any sports activities group that includes a bevy of achieved athletes, the Team USA baseball group, enjoying to qualify for a bid to this summer season’s Olympics in Tokyo, options some inside competitors.
Although what they’re competing over is likely to be a little bit totally different.
“Edwin Jackson’s older than me. Brandon Dickson’s a few months older than me, if you want to put that in there,” David Robertson, 36, informed The Post on Saturday, Dickson inside earshot. “We’re counting months down here trying to not be the oldest guy.”
Robertson, the two-time former Yankee pitcher, headlines a gaggle of veteran free brokers and younger employed gamers (none on 40-man rosters) that can attempt to get this membership into the primary Olympic baseball competitors since 2008, with their first recreation Monday in opposition to Team Nicaragua at Clover Park, the Mets’ spring-training residence, in Port St. Lucie. In addition to the 37-year-old pitcher Jackson and Dickson, who spent the prior eight seasons pitching for the Orix Buffaloes in Japan after beginning his profession with the Cardinals, acquainted names embrace former Met and Yankee Todd Frazier, All-Star outfielder Matt Kemp, creator of two no-hitters Homer Bailey and lefty reliever Marc “Scrabble’’ Rzepczynski. Longtime Angels supervisor Mike Scioscia runs the group.
The huge names however, their job received’t be simple. Only two groups from a gaggle of 12, together with powerhouses just like the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Puerto Rico and Cuba, will finally make the lower through a byzantine course of by which one membership will earn its invitation this week and a second subsequent month. Yet Robertson, who stands out amongst this group as a result of damage fairly than underperformance landed him right here, freely admits that this gig carries two functions for him — and his mindset clearly predominates the group.
“I’m obviously excited about the opportunity of winning a gold [medal]. It would be cool,” Robertson mentioned. “Going to Japan, going to the Olympic Village, attending to play in opposition to totally different international locations. I’ve by no means been to Japan. I believe it could be a cool journey. It would positively be particular. Any time you’ve acquired the ‘USA’ throughout your chest, it’s particular.
“But at the same time, obviously I would love to get back into MLB, but I need the right fit and the right contract for that to happen. I’m just going to kind of enjoy this whole experience and see whatever happens, happens.”
In his final full main league season, 2018 with the Yankees, Robertson put up a consultant season for his profession, tallying a 3.23 ERA in 69 appearances, hanging out 91 and strolling 26 in 69 ²/₃ innings. Then he signed a two-year, $23-million contract with the Phillies, solely to go down after a mere seven video games in 2019 with an ailing proper elbow. He underwent Tommy John surgical procedure that August.
“It was a little more involved than just the TJ. I had some flexor tendon issues, too,” Robertson mentioned. “My recovery was not the yearlong [recuperation]. It was more of a 16- to-18-month recovery. I tried to rush it because I wanted to pitch and just couldn’t get ready. It took me every bit of 18 months to get healthy and feel normal. Once I did, everything’s coming right back.”
The right-hander threw throughout a pair of showcases in February, one close to his Alabama residence and the opposite in Florida, for main league expertise evaluators.
“We had some offers come in and out,” he mentioned. “Nothing really got worked out.”
Because he pitched for the championship Team USA within the 2017 World Baseball Classic, Robertson held a relationship with USA Baseball’s CEO, Paul Seiler, whom he contacted when he didn’t discover frequent floor with any main league groups. He has spent the previous 2 ½ weeks coaching with this group in Florida, and recreation time is at hand.
“I have been told to be ready at any point: ‘The phone might ring, and it might be you,’ ” Robertson mentioned. “It’s all hands on deck”
And all of the veterans on one heck of a platform.
“I think I can still do it,” Robertson mentioned, and what higher showcase for a free agent to show that than worldwide play?