Former big league pitcher Jon Moscot will be there for Israel when the Tokyo 2020 Olympics open next year

Former big league pitcher Jon Moscot will be there for Israel when the Tokyo 2020 Olympics open next year
The former Cincinnati Reds pitcher started the game against the Netherlands at the WBSC Europe/Africa Olympic Baseball Qualifier. "The postponement was disappointing, but it was the right thing to do. Maintaining the same strong work ethic we are accustomed to, will help us get through this time."

"I still try and get a workout every day," says a future Olympic baseball player.

Jon Moscot, one of the pitchers who earned a historic spot in the Olympics for Israel, tells the WBSC that he is willing to #StayStrong.

"Not having weights makes it a challenge, but I alternate between body weight explosive workouts, high-intensity interval training, upper body workouts and long-distance runs. I’m definitely getting creative, using the internet as a resource for new drills and movements to keep my body in shape."

What do you mean with creative?
"Just yesterday I used water jugs as weights for lunges and upper body exercises. I get my throwing in against the wall in my backyard and spend a lot of time I may otherwise not have spent stretching and doing arm care (bands and light weights)."

Moscot was born on 15 August 1991 in Santa Monica, California. He played baseball at the Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo, California. The Cincinnati Reds selected him in the fourth round of the 2012 Major League Baseball (MLB) Draft. After his professional debut, he got in touch with the Israeli Baseball National Team.

"I became involved with Israeli baseball establishing a relationship with the former President of the Israel Association of Baseball (IAB) Peter Kurz after the 2013 World Baseball Classic," he said. "Peter and I kept in contact and I was planning to pitch for Israel in the 2017 World Baseball Classic, but unfortunately had Tommy John surgery the summer before it took place."

Moscot's career had been on the fast track when he made his MLB debut for the Reds in 2015. He started three games in the 2015 season and five more in the 2016 season. He then underwent the ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction, a surgery that requires at least one year of recovery time.

"I stayed in touch with Peter," said Moscot. "When he called about playing for the National team, the time was right and I jumped on the opportunity to finally represent my heritage and play for Israel."

Moscot appeared in two games at the European Baseball Championship last September in Bonn and Solingen, Germany. He helped Israel finish fourth and advance to the Europe/Africa Olympic Qualifier. He contributed to the historic Olympic qualification one week later allowing just a run over four hits in his only start against the Netherlands, the three-time defending European Champions and the favourites.

"Honestly, it was huge," he said. "I don’t want to say we were surprised because we all knew how good we could be, but I know we were underdogs from everyone else's viewpoint and it made it that much sweeter when we clinched the berth last fall. Representing Israel and participating in the Olympics is truly a dream come true, and will be the pinnacle in my life as an athlete."

How disappointing was the postponement of the Games?
"The postponement was disappointing, but it was the right thing to do. The world is hurting right now and it would not have made sense. Training and preparation can be pushed out for another year. The Olympics themselves are a unifying global event and I can only hope that next summer, the Games are a light which everyone can look forward to."

What thoughts do you have to share with other athletes?
"This is a broad question, but my immediate thoughts are that the world right now is testing us, athlete or not. It is a difficult time to be an athlete prepping for the biggest moment of our lives. I think maintaining the same strong work ethic we are accustomed to in our training programs but being open to new ways of achieving the same result will help us get through this time. Some of us may never have taken the time to visualize, reflect, stretch, and so on. There may be different avenues that help us reach our pinnacle of performance and this time inside can help us get there."

Plans for this season?

"This season I was planning on getting in top shape and throwing innings to college/pro hitters in my area to prepare for the games. Recently, having retired (from the MLB) due to overuse injuries, it is difficult for me to pitch a full regular season so my preparation is carefully mapped out and planned."

How did the lockdown affect it?
"The lockdown has affected everything. Gyms are closed, schools are closed. Even finding a partner to play catch with is near impossible. The wall has become my catch partner during this time. The hardest part about the lockdown is maintaining normalcy in training without a doubt."

What do you expect for the rest of this Spring and for the Summer?
"My expectation is that this situation does not fully clear up before the Summer. I think making the most of what we have right now, respecting the social distancing guidelines and still getting our work in will be challenging but we can all make the best of it."

"I met a young boy, when I was playing for the Cincinnati Reds a few years ago, who was struggling big time in the hospital recovering from many years of surgery and complications from his illness. I asked him how he got through each day and he looked me in the eye and said 'Just make the best of it.' That's how I think athletes and sports get through this crisis. We find the silver lining and appreciate everything that much more when it goes back to normal, hopefully sooner than later."

See you in Tokyo for the Games of the XXXII Olympiad, then.

"Without a doubt in the world. I’ll see you guys in Tokyo next Summer."