Silver-medal winning speed skater now taking at-bats for Birmingham

Silver-medal winning speed skater now taking at-bats for Birmingham

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Florida native Eddy Alvarez is currently a shortstop in the Chicago White Sox organization, but he's also a silver-medal winning Olympic speed skater.

How does a person go from living near Miami beach to lacing up the ice skates?

"I wish I had a nickel for every time I got asked that," Alvarez said. "As a young kid, I kind of fell into the sport of inline speed skating on wheels. At an early age, I transitioned to the ice and fell in love with it."

A son of Cuban-American parents, Alvarez earned a chance to play college baseball, but decided to focus on chasing his Olympic dream following his graduation from high school in 2008.

Instead of enrolling at St. Thomas University (NAIA), he moved across the country to California to train and chase his dream of Olympic gold.

After performing well in the 2008 and 2009 World Junior Short Track Championships, Alvarez finished 13th overall in the 2010 Olympic Trials, meaning he'd have to wait until 2014 to possibly represent his country.

Until that time came, Alvarez returned to baseball and tried out for Salt Lake Community College (Utah). He immediately became the starting shortstop, producing a .311 batting average along with 46 RBIs in 63 games during his first season.

But the gruesome Olympic training schedule of 6-8 hours per day, six days per week for 11 months in a year caught up to his knees. Alvarez was forced to have major surgery after playing his entire freshman season at Salt Lake CC with torn platella tendons.

"The doctor said there was a possibility I wouldn't be able to skate again," Alvarez said. "But it was a chance I was willing to take because there was no way I could skate with the amount of pain I had."

The gamble paid off.

Alvarez later qualified for the 2014 Sochi Olympics and took home a silver medal in the 5,000-meter relay, falling shy of host country Russia.

Despite not winning gold, representing the USA at an olympic event is something that still gives him chills. After all, it also allowed him to meet his girlfriend -- figure skater Ashley Wagner.

Alvarez is now eyeing an eventual call-up to the White Sox with no future skating plans. After hitting at least .300 at each level since entering pro ball in 2014, the 26-year-old continues to solve the Double-A riddle, hitting .252 through 80 games with the Birmingham Barons after posting a .145 average through April.

"In baseball, you have to mentally be there for every pitch and every at-bat," Alvarez said. "That's something that I've learned through my playing experience. In skating, you only compete twice a month for six months a year.

Scouts believe his fielding ability is the best part of his game, but the overall consistent hitting has been a major plus.

With top prospect Tim Anderson already patrolling shortstop for Chicago, it's unclear what the organization's plan is for both players if they are to play at the same level soon.

"All I can control is what I can control -- working hard, hustling everything out, putting together good at-bats and mentally being there," Alvarez said.

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