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Mike Scioscia to manage U.S. in Olympic baseball qualifying

CARY, N.C. -- Mike Scioscia is taking over as the third manager of USA Baseball team in this Olympic qualifying cycle and will try to get the Americans to the tournament in Japan this summer.

USA Baseball hired the former Los Angeles Angels manager on Tuesday. He will lead a team of minor leaguers into the second-chance qualifying event, the Baseball Americas Qualifier, to be played in June in Florida.

Joe Girardi quit as U.S. manager in October 2019 to pursue a major league managing job, and Scott Brosius took over. Girardi was hired by the Philadelphia Phillies.

The U.S. was three outs from qualifying for the Olympics in November 2019 at the Premier12 tournament in Tokyo when Matt Clark hit a tying home run off former St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Brandon Dickson leading off the bottom of the ninth inning, Efren Navarro had a broken-bat single against Caleb Thielbar to drive in the winning run in the 10th and Mexico beat the United States 3-2 to reach its first Olympic baseball tournament.

Scioscia, 62, led the Angels to a 1,650-1,428 record from 2000-18 and won the 2002 World Series.

The U.S. plays the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Nicaragua in Group A at the Americas tournament, and the top two teams advance to the super round along with two teams from Group B, which includes Canada, Colombia, Cuba and Venezuela.

The top team from the super round joins Japan, Israel, Mexico and South Korea at the Olympic baseball tournament, to be played from July 28 to Aug. 7 in Fukushima and Yokohama.

Only players not on 26-man major league rosters and injured lists will be eligible to play in the Americas tournament.

The second- and third-place teams advance to a final qualifier in June in Taiwan, which will include Australia, China, Netherlands and Taiwan.

Baseball is returning to the Olympics after being dropped for 2012 and 2016. Cuba won the gold medal in 1992, 1996 and 2004, the United States in 2000 and South Korea in 2008.

Baseball is likely to be dropped for the 2024 Olympics in Paris and then restored again for 2028 in Los Angeles.