Schierholtz joins Olympic roster
Giants' outfield prospect honored by late selection
SAN FRANCISCO -- Nate Schierholtz's best efforts to join the Giants have proven futile so far. So being a late addition to the Team USA roster that's headed for next month's Olympics didn't bother him a bit.Schierholtz was among four fresh additions to the 24-man team that was finalized on Wednesday. The left-handed-hitting outfielder entered the day batting .310 in 85 games for Triple-A Fresno with 13 home runs, 62 RBIs and a .912 OPS (.555 slugging percentage, .358 on-base percentage). "I'm pretty excited," said Schierholtz, 24. "It's going to be an honor to represent the USA and hopefully bring home a gold medal." Schierholtz learned in early June that he was being considered for Team USA. His selection to the U.S. Squad for the XM All-Star Futures Game raised his profile further. Yet he wasn't among the 23 players named to the Olympic contingent last week. "I was kind of surprised when I was left off the roster in the beginning, and then I kind of figured I wasn't going, so I forgot about it for a few days," Schierholtz said. The situation somewhat mirrored Schierholtz's predicament with the Giants, which is a sheer numbers game. The organization wants to give him a chance to flourish in the big league outfield, but with Fred Lewis, Aaron Rowand and Randy Winn all thriving, there's no room for Schierholtz. So the Giants have kept him in Triple-A to enable him to play regularly and hone his skills.
"It's just something I've had to deal with," he said. "I understand the situation."Schierholtz might have to wait for an injury or a trade to get his chance with the Giants. But at least he had better luck with Team USA, which endured some attrition to its original roster. Outfielder Colby Rasmus was sidelined with an injury, and left-handers Geno Espineli (Giants) and Clayton Richard (White Sox) were promoted to the Majors. This cleared roster room for Schierholtz and pitchers Jeremy Cummings (Rays) and Brian Duensing (Twins). Second baseman Jayson Nix (Rockies) was added as the team's 24th player. Schierholtz, who hit .304 in 39 games with the Giants last year, believes that his Major League experience will help him in Beijing.
"A lot of the games are probably going to be played under a little bit of pressure," he said. "Obviously we want to win."Especially since baseball is being dropped from the Olympics in 2012. "For me, it definitely means a lot more," Schierholtz said. "I think that it's important for our country to bring home a medal and show that it's still a big deal over here. Obviously, baseball is our national pastime, and I think all of America would agree that it should be in the Olympics." Winn, who played for the U.S. in the 2006 World Baseball Classic, can identify with Schierholtz. "You get this weird flutter that you don't get from playing in the big leagues every day," Winn said. "It's a true honor." Schierholtz said that immersing himself in the Olympics will give him a break from wondering when or if the Giants will summon him. "It'll get my mind off things a little bit," Schierholtz said. "I feel like I've been swinging the bat well the last week or two, and it'll be good to carry that on into the Olympics. Hopefully I can help the team, and then hopefully when I get back, it'll be late August and it'll be time to help the Giants."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.