Last week Major League Baseball revealed the rosters of all participating teams to the 4th edition of the World Baseball Classic (see here). CEB will introduce each European team as we get closer to the event which starts on March 6th, 2017.
We begin with Italy, a cornerstone of European Baseball.
- - 4th participation to the World Baseball Classic / best result: 2nd round in 2013
- - 10 times European Baseball Champion / 2nd best all-time
- - 4 appearances to the Olympic Games
- - 17 Baseball World Cups & 12 Intercontinental Cups
Past results at the World Baseball Classic
- - 2006: 1st round: W 10-0 vs Australia, L 6-0 vs Venezuela, L 3-8 vs Dominican Republic
- - 2009: 1st round: L 7-0 vs Venezuela, W 6-2 vs Canada, L 10-1 vs Venezuela
- - 2013: 1st round: W 6-5 vs Mexico, W 14-4 vs Canada, L 6-2 vs USA / 2nd round: L 5-4 vs Dominican Republic, L 4-3 vs Puerto Rico
World N°11 Italy has been consistently improving at the global baseball event, recording a win in each of its firts two appearances in 2006 and 2009, then breaking out in 2013 with a qualification to the second round. They eventually lost to future winner Dominican Republic 4-3 in a game they were leading until the 7th inning, then were eliminated by Puerto Rico, again by the finest margin of one point, having lead until the 8th inning. Though losses for Italy but a strong showing at the most recent edition of the Classic.
Italy celebrates a run against the United States of America at the 2013 World Baeball Classic.
The 2017 roster and expectations
See the complete Italian roster for the 2017 World Baseball Classic.
WBC veterans Chris Collabello, Francisco Cervelli, Alex Liddi and Drew Butera are back on the roster of Italy for 2017. The team will miss top slugger and Chicaco Cubs star Anthony Rizzo but still has a lot of talent. Italy's status will be one of an underdog but the squadra azzurra has proved that it can beat any team in the competition.
As Italy's Manager Marco Mazzieri puts it: "There is a lot of excitment to be in the Classic once again. It's a such a great event, we're very much looking forward to it. It's been a hard journey to finalize the roster but eventually we have the players who strongly wanted to join us and we are happy with the roster we have. Now we can't wait to get to Arizona on feb. 25th [to start the training camp ahead of the competition]. Our expectations are to be as competitive as possible. Needles to say ours is the the toughest bracket by far but we don't complain. We just have to play our best baseball and show how much passion this Team has."
As a matter of fact Italy's pool is made of N°6 Mexico, N°7 Venezuela and N°12 Puerto Rico. The path to the second round is long and Marco Mazzieri's team will face oppositions of strong contenders for the victory whose teams are packed with professionnal players and MLB superstars such as Mexico's Adrian Gonzales and Sergio Romo, Puerto Rico's Yadier Molina and Carlos Beltran or Venezuela's Miguel Cabrera, Carlos Gonzalez, Martin Prado and Salvador Perez.
Italy's 2017 WBC schedule
Italy will begin its journey on March the 9th versus Mexico on their home soil. They'll then play against Venezuela on the 11th and Puerto Rico on the 12th. If qualified, the Pool D final game is on March 13th and the second round starts on March 14th in San Diego, USA, with the two top teams of Pool C.