By Citlalli Godinez
Patrick Kivlehan, a former Rutgers star and West Nyack native is competing on the U.S. baseball team at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.
“I always thought the pinnacle would be playing in the big leagues until this opportunity presented itself,” said Kivlehan. There was no formal tryout process for the Olympic baseball team. “Team USA reached out to me to ask if I’d be interested,” said Kivlehan. “It was an immediate yes.”
Kivlehan was selected by the Seattle Mariners in the fourth round of the 2012 MLB draft, the same year he became the first player in the Big East Conference to achieve the triple crown enroute to winning player of the year. Kivlehan has had past experiences in the majors with the San Diego Padres, Cincinnati Reds and Arizona Diamondbacks.
The 31-year old outfielder is with his current team, El Paso Chihuahuas, a Triple-A affiliate of the San Diego Padres. In the last seven games, Kivlehan has averaged .250 with three runs, one hit, two RBI and three strikeouts. Despite the Tokyo Olympics being postponed for a year, it’s still being held during the global COVID-19 pandemic and while Tokyo is in a state of emergency. Tokyo reported a six-month high in new COVID cases prior to the Olympics.
According to The Playbook of Athletes and Officials, the Olympic protocols include: mask wearing, minimizing physical interaction, testing, tracing and isolating and proper hygiene. To minimize interaction, the games will take place without fans. “It’s unfortunate to hear they’ll have no fans,” said Kivlehan. “That’s one of the things I was looking forward to the most.”.
Athletes arriving in Japan after July 1, have to be tested for COVID-19 multiple times before their flight. Athletes were required to have two COVID-19 tests on two different days within 96 hours of their first international flight, and at least one of those two tests had to be within 72 hours of their departure.
The team was set to arrive on July 16 to participate in a media day and workouts on July 17. Training will take place at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, North Carolina. The U.S Olympic baseball team opened their exhibition series with an 8-3 win over Collegiate National Team.
According to usabaseball.com, “the Olympic team had nine hits in the win. Kivelahn had a pair of hits, leading the team with three RBIs.”
The remaining exhibition games will take place on July 19 at 6:35 in Durham, NC and July 20 at 1:00 in Cary NC. Team USA, which is seeking its third Olympic gold medal, will open the Olympic tournament on July 30 against Israel.
The final roster consists of 12 pitchers and 12 position players, and features 19 USA baseball national team alumni, including 14 members of the Professional National Team.
Kivlehan advises others in the baseball industry to, “just keep practicing and be a good teammate because you never know where that game will take you and the people you will meet that will help you along the way.”
I never thought this opportunity would be possible,” said Kivlehan.
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