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Ian Kinsler eligible to play for Israel baseball team at Olympics

Ian Kinsler

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 22: Ian Kinsler #3 of team United States reacts after scoring a run off a hit by Christian Yelich #7 for a 3-0 lead over Puerto Rico in the fifth inning during Game 3 of the Championship Round of the 2017 World Baseball Classic at Dodger Stadium on March 22, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

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Ian Kinsler, a recently retired MLB All-Star, is now eligible to represent Israel at the Olympics.

An Israel Baseball federation spokesperson confirmed a Jerusalem Post report that Kinsler recently made aliyah to fulfill Israeli citizenship requirements to become eligible.

Kinsler, 37, retired from the MLB in December after 14 seasons and 1,999 hits, most with the Texas Rangers.

Kinsler reportedly would have been eligible to play for Israel at the World Baseball Classic due to his Jewish heritage. He did not, but did play for the U.S. at the most recent World Baseball Classic in 2017, smacking a home run in an 8-0 win over Puerto Rico in the final.

Baseball returns to the Olympics for the Tokyo Games for the first time since 2008. Israel qualified for an Olympic baseball tournament for the first time by winning a joint European-African tournament in September.

Israel, then ranked 19th in the world, upset the highest-ranked European nations — the Netherlands (No. 8) and host Italy (No. 16) — and wrapped it up with an 11-1 win over South Africa. The most notable name on that Israel roster was Danny Valencia, an infielder who played parts of nine MLB seasons from 2010-18.

Active MLB players, as with previous Olympic baseball tournaments, are not expected to be eligible for the Tokyo Games. Other recent MLB players to express interest in the Olympics or Olympic qualifying included fellow All-Stars Adam Jones (U.S.) and Justin Morneau (Canada). The U.S. and Canada have not yet qualified.

It’s believed that two players with prior MLB All-Star experience competed at the Olympics for any nation -- Australian catcher Dave Nilsson and Canadian pitcher Jason Dickson.

Many players competed at the Olympics before making an MLB All-Star team, including Stephen Strasburg and Jason Giambi.

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