By Matt Meyers
March 2, 2006
As the World Baseball Classic nears, the last-minute changes and announcements keep coming. Most notably, Mets righthander Pedro Martinez officially announced he will not be playing in the Classic for his native Dominican Republic. Originally, Martinez said he would not be available for the first round games but has now said he is out for the entire tournament.
Martinez announcement was necessary because final rosters are due to Major League Baseball by the end of today. Italy was one of the first to submit a final roster, doing so today.
As has been publicized, the Padres' Mike Piazza will be the biggest name on Italy's roster. Other big leaguers are Blue Jays outfielder Frank Catalanotto, Reds infielder Frank Menechino, Red Sox lefthander Lenny DiNardo, Astros lefthander Mike Gallo and Devil Rays righthander Dan Miceli. One of Piazza's backups will be ex-big leaguer Tom Gregorio, who played for the Athletics' Triple-A Sacramento affiliate last season.
Italy will also feature two prospects with fairly divergent skill sets. Rangers outfielder Vince Sinisi is known for his line drive stroke and his ability to use the entire field, while the Tigers' Tony Giarratano makes a living with his above-average defense at shortstop.
Being in the same pool as Venezuela and the Dominican Republic will make it difficult for Italy to advance past pool play. But with the absence of Martinez along with Manny Ramirez and Vladimir Guerrero from the Dominican Republic's roster, it has become far more likely that Italy can give the Dominican's a good fight.
Pitchers: Phil Barzilla (Astros), Lenny DiNardo (Red Sox), Jason Grilli (Tigers), Mike Gallo (Astros), Dan Miceli (Devil Rays), Alessandro Maestri, Riccardo De Santis, David Rollandini, Mark LaMacchia (Rangers), John Mangieri, Kasey Olenberger (Angels), Todd Incantalupo, Fabio Milano, Tony Fiore (Tigers).
Catchers: Matt Ceriani, Tom Gregorio, Mike Piazza (Padres).
Infielders: Valentino Pascucci, Frank Menechino (Reds), Tony Giarratano (Tigers), Mark Saccomanno (Astros), Jack Santora, Davide Dallospedale, Claudio Liverziani.
Outfielders: Frank Catalanotto (Blue Jays), Dustin Delucchi, Vince Sinisi (Rangers), James Buccheri, Jairo Ramos Gizzi, Peter Zoccolillo.