The World Baseball Classic is loaded with notable major leaguers, but one of the biggest names will be in the manager’s seat.
Italy will be managed by Hall of Fame catcher Mike Piazza, who has long sought the job and will finally get a chance to lead the nation into baseball’s most prominent international tournament.
Piazza had an outstanding major league career from 1992-2007, finishing with 427 home runs and a .922 OPS at a position that isn’t traditionally known for offense. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2016.
The Italians have some MLB talent on their roster, including Matt Harvey, David Fletcher, and Vinnie Pasquantino. Could Piazza’s leadership be enough to help the national team reach new heights?
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Here’s a look at why Piazza is managing Italy in the 2023 World Baseball Classic:
Why is Mike Piazza managing Italy?
Unlike some last-minute roster decisions by Italy and other teams, this has been in the works for several years.
Piazza has Italian roots on his father’s side, as his father was the son of immigrants from Sicily. Though the 54-year-old was born in Pennsylvania, he has been loyal to Italy in international play.
Piazza originally agreed to manage Italy for the 2021 World Baseball Classic back in 2019. The tournament was canceled due to COVID-19, but Piazza stayed committed and reaffirmed his decision in March 2022.
While he doesn’t have managing experience, Piazza is no stranger to the World Baseball Classic. He served as Italy’s hitting coach during the 2009 and 2013 tournaments, and he played for the team in 2006.
“I was always a big fan of the Classic,” Piazza told Newsday last year, adding, “I talked to a lot of guys who are interested.”
Piazza was able to secure a handful of major leaguers for Italy, which is hoping to win more than one game at the World Baseball Classic for only the second time in tournament history.
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Italy World Baseball Classic roster notable names
Italy’s roster includes a number of players with MLB experience, as well as young talent still on its way to the majors. Here’s a list of notable names who will be playing for Piazza in the World Baseball Classic.
- Matt Harvey
- David Fletcher
- Vinnie Pasquantino
- Nicky Lopez
- Sal Frelick
- Andre Pallante
- Joe Biagini
- Sam Gaviglio
Former MLB outfielder Chris Denorfia is also on Italy’s coaching staff as the team’s hitting coach.