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No Retirees on Olympic Ball Team

August 22, 2000

CINCINNATI (AP) _ Tim Raines won’t be on the U.S. Olympic baseball team, leaving it to minor leaguers to try to win a medal in Sydney next month.

Raines, the last former major league player still under consideration for the team, has been rejected by the selection committee. The roster will be announced later this week.

Raines, who turns 41 on Sept. 16, has been playing in the independent Atlantic League as a way of getting back into shape and auditioning for the team.

``We appreciate Tim’s desire and effort,″ selection committee member Bob Watson said Monday. ``He sacrificed both physically and mentally to try to make this squad. It just didn’t pan out, but we do thank him for that.″

Raines had battled lupus at the end of his 21-year major league career, which included two World Series championships with the New York Yankees. He had a career .295 average with 964 RBIs and 807 stolen bases, the fifth-highest total in major league history.

He was one of several former major leaguers who came out of retirement to try out for the U.S. team. They either got hurt, quit again or were turned down.

Watson declined to say why Raines was rejected. The U.S. Olympic Committee wants to limit discussion of the roster pending the announcement later this week.

``It did not work out for some various reasons,″ Watson said. ``We will get into some of the particulars later on.″

Watson said the roster wasn’t final Monday.

The roster is likely to include Cincinnati Reds minor league shortstop Gookie Dawkins, who was on the Pan American Games team last year that qualified the United States for the Olympic tournament. The Reds have given permission for Dawkins to play.

Professionals will be used in the Olympic baseball tournament for the first time in Sydney. It was restricted to amateurs in the first two medal tournaments in Barcelona and Atlanta.

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