Robinson to play for team Canada in what may be baseball’s last Olympic go around

By Steve Contorno

Illinois baseball has never had a representative in the Olympics. Now, in what could be that last Olympics with baseball, the Illini can finally send someone out on the diamond.

The Canadian national team tabbed former Illini Chris Robinson to play catcher for the Beijing games. It’s Robinson’s seventh stint with the Canadian team. Robinson also played with Canada leading up to Olympics in the qualifying rounds.

Attempts to reach Robinson were unsuccessful, however, he did release a statement through the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics in July.

“Getting the opportunity to play for your country is something that you can’t take for granted, whether it’s your first time or your tenth time,” Robinson said in the press release. “You have to appreciate the opportunity.”

It won’t be an easy road for Canada, who play host-country China in its opener. But Robinson, who was once rated the Detroit Tigers’ top defensive catching prospect, has faith in Canada to go far.

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“I think we have a really good mix of older and younger guys,” Robinson said. “I kind of fit into the middle of that since I have some international experience, but we have some guys like Rheal Cormier and Chris Reitsma who are experienced Major League guys. We’re definitely going into it with high hopes.”

Robinson is currently in the Cubs’ farm system. His .347 career batting average at Illinois ranks 16th in school history.