FRISCO, Texas -- On Monday, Emerson Frostad will arrive in Toronto with his teammates and coaches, but not those from Double-A Frisco. Tomorrow begins the countdown for Frostad and the Canadian Baseball Team's journey to this summer's Olympic Games in Beijing. After two years of competing with teams from around the globe -- as well as fellow Canadians -- Frostad will put his professional baseball aspirations on hold to represent his country on the world's most prestigious stage.
"This has been a two-year process that I've been a part of," said Frostad, a native of Calgary, Alberta. "It's real competitive. It's a different kind of baseball. Everybody comes together real quick and you're playing for your country, so there's a lot of pride involved. And it's all about winning, so everybody's pulling for each other and trying to win at all costs." And that's just what Frostad and Team Canada did in the final Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Taiwan in March, going 6-1 to take first place in the tournament. In order to play in the tournament, Frostad had to leave during Spring Training. Just months later, Team Canada general manager Greg Hamilton informed Frostad that his commitment was being rewarded -- he'd been selected to play for his country in Beijing. "I got a call from Greg Hamilton, who let me know that I was able to go to the Olympics, so I was pretty excited when I got that call," Frostad said. "The first thing I did was call my parents and let them know I was going." In addition to the support he received from his family, Frostad's current employer, the Texas Rangers, also stood firmly behind his decision to play in the Games. "They were real excited," Frostad said. "They've been real supportive the whole way. It's really great that they're letting me go." Of course, Frostad won't be the only catcher representing the Rangers in the Olympics. Triple-A Oklahoma catcher Taylor Teagarden was selected to play for Team USA. So, in addition to the familiar faces Frostad will be playing alongside, he'll have at least one more in the opposing dugout whenever Canada plays the United States. Frostad and Teagarden spent part of 2007 together at Frisco. "We're playing four exhibition games against the U.S. in Durham [N.C.] before we go over to Beijing, so I'll be able to hang out with him a little bit," Frostad said. "It shows the quality of the Rangers' catching staff to have two catchers going to the Olympics." Frostad is hitting .253 with six home runs, 24 doubles and 35 RBIs in 85 games at Frisco and also spent two games at Oklahoma while Teagarden was playing in the Triple-A All-Star game. Some players might be hesitant to risk stunting their development by leaving their professional organization. However, Frostad sees the Olympics as a way to accelerate his development. "It's a great opportunity to see some different kinds of pitching," Frostad said. "A lot of the Asian teams pitch a little differently than they do here. You get to play with players from other organizations, and some from Triple-A, so you get a chance to learn from them." And when his Olympic experience is complete, Frostad plans on rejoining Frisco for its playoff push. But no matter what happens down the road with Frostad's professional career, he's just grateful to be bringing his Canadian baseball career full circle in what could be the final year baseball is played in the Olympics. Baseball was removed from the 2012 Olympics. Frostad played college ball in America and since being drafted in 2003 has spent the majority of his time away from home. "Being down here for most of the year, the time I'm able to spend in Canada seems to be shrinking year by year," Frostad said. "So, it's nice to be able to play for my country and maybe win an Olympic medal. "That's the thing that I've been thinking about the most. Not too many athletes get to go to the Olympics, no matter what their sport is, so I'm pretty honored to be going and I think we have a good shot at winning a medal."
Shawn Shroyer is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.