Manford: pausing MLB for ’28 Olympics difficult

Published 10:47 pm Friday, October 27, 2023

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Bryce Harper wants big leaguers to play in the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics. Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred says pausing the regular season to make that happen would be difficult.

“Everyone appreciates the challenges associated with major league players playing in a tournament that is in the middle of our season,” Manfred said before Fridays’ World Series opener. “We’re an everyday game. We’re kind of big on the integrity of that regular season. It’s an important thing for us.”

Baseball and softball were restored to the 2028 Games after being dropped for next year’s Paris Olympics. MLB did not let players on active big league rosters participate in 2000, 2004 and 2008, and the sport was dropped for 2012 and 2016.

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While baseball was restored for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, only players not on 26-man active rosters and injured lists were eligible, and many clubs blocked top eligible prospects from heading to the tournament in Japan. Nippon Professional Baseball did let its top players participate, and Japan beat the U.S. in the gold medal game.

Harper, whose Philadelphia Phillies were eliminated from MLB’s postseason this week, said recently that it would be a dream to play for Team USA . The 31-year-old has long been an advocate of MLB taking a break during the season to let major leaguers play in the Olympics.

“You talk about growing the game, and that’s the way you grow it at the highest peak,” Harper said. “You let guys that are playing in the league take that break just like in the NHL and see what happens. I think it would be really cool. I think it would be a lot of fun. I don’t know if they’ll ever go for it, but I would love to put USA on my chest and represent it at the highest level.”

Casey Wasserman, the chairman of the Los Angeles Games organizers, also owns an agency that represents dozens of MLB players.

“Casey Wasserman has been supportive of getting baseball back in the Olympics, which we appreciate,” Manfred said. “We think it’s a great thing and we will continue to listen as to whether there’s some arrangement that could be worked out — I’m not saying one word about major league players — some arrangement that could be worked out to make it the best possible tournament.”