Ex-big leaguer Cromartie backs baseball's return to Olympics

TOKYO (AP) Former major leaguer Warren Cromartie has welcomed the return of baseball to the Olympics but says he doesn't see players from Major League Baseball taking part in the 2020 Tokyo Games.

One of the most popular foreigners to play in Japan, Cromartie spent seven seasons with the Tokyo Yomiuri Giants from 1984-90 after nine seasons in Major League Baseball with the Montreal Expos.

''Baseball is part of Japanese culture, it has to be in the Olympics,'' Cromartie said. ''It should be there, I'm a big supporter of baseball in Japan.''

The IOC approved the return of baseball and softball to the Olympics in 2020 on Wednesday along with four other sports.

Baseball and softball have been off the Olympic program since the 2008 Beijing Games.

While the pro leagues in Japan and some other countries have agreed to suspend their seasons to allow their players to go to the Olympics, MLB has not.

The head of the World Baseball Softball Confederation, Riccardo Fraccari, says he will continue negotiating with MLB to send their players to the Olympics but Cromartie doesn't see that happening.

''In my view it's not going to happen,'' Cromartie said. ''Unfortunately, with the way things are done now with the financials, the contracts, television. its a difficult thing to do right now for MLB to pull their players out at that time.''

The Tokyo Games run from July 24-Aug. 9 and MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has said the dates of are ''not ideal.''

In 2008, only those not on 25-man big league rosters as of late June were allowed to compete in the Beijing Games.

Cuba won gold medals in 1992, 1996 and 2004, the U.S. in 2000 and South Korea in 2008.

Cromartie is in Japan as part of an MLB tour to the northeastern part of the country that was devastated by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. He is also part of the group that is attempting to bring a Major League team back to Montreal.

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide—from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Andy Staples, Grant Wahl, and more—delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.