USA Baseball finalized its roster for the 2011 World Cup, which begins next week in Panama, while Italy has released its final roster.
Team USA substituted veteran lefthander Royce Ring (Red Sox) to replace Joe Savery (Phillies), as well as adding first baseman Chad Tracy (Rangers), the former Pepperdine catcher (not the former Diamondbacks corner infielder).
Italy's roster has one big name on it, with future Hall of Famer Mike Piazza, but he's just on the coaching staff and won't play for Italy. Italy does have former Cubs farmhand Alessandro Maestri on its pitching staff as well as two affiliated pitchers: lefthander Luca Panerati (Reds), who pitched 35 innings at low Class A Dayton, and righthander Andrea Pizziconi (Royals), who pitched 40 innings with a 6.81 ERA with Rookie-level Burlington. The team does not include Italy's homegrown big leaguer Alex Liddi.
Team Italy is training in Vero Beach, Fla., at Piazza's former Dodgertown stomping grounds and will play exhibitions in instructional league this week to prepare for the Cup. Play begins Saturday, Oct. 1.
Greece announced its roster as well. It's the first time Greece, which uses a mix of "passport" players (i.e., players of Greek heritage) and Greek-born players (mostly as reserves), is in the World Cup. The Greek team, which qualified with a 5-5 mark and fourth-place finish in last year's European qualifier, is managed by ex-big leaguer Jim Essian.
Greece's most notable players are former pros such as ex-big league catchers Mike Tonis (whose Greek roster name is Michal Koutsantonakis) and Erik Pappas, who is now 45 but still sees time behind the plate; ex-UCLA and Dodgers infielder Nick Theodorou; ex-Diamondbacks farmhand Pete Sikaras, a righthander; Louisville's 38-year-old assistant coach, Chris Lemonis; and workhorse lefthander A.J. Brack, a former indy leaguer who appeared in six of Greece's 10 games in last year's qualifier.
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