Italy Announces Roster; Pedro Bows Out

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

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.

Team Italy

Phil Barzilla (Orioles), 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).

Valentino Pascucci, Frank Menechino (Reds), Tony Giarratano (Tigers),
Greg Saccomanno, Jack Santora, Davide Dallospedale, Claudio Liverziani.

Outfielders: Frank Catalanotto (Blue Jays), Dustin Delucchi, Vince Sinisi (Rangers), James Buccheri, Jairo Ramos Gizzi, Peter Zoccolillo.