Familiar faces grace Italian entry

Piazza leads contingent of 25 players affiliated with MLB teams

Mike Piazza, currently a free agent, is the most recognizable name on Team Italy. (Nam Y. Huh/AP)

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The Italy team may receive only a fraction of the attention heaped onto the American and Dominican clubs, but fans may be surprised to see several familiar names on the roster of the club that will represent Italy in the World Baseball Classic.

Twenty-five of the 60 players that comprise the Italian roster are affiliated with Major League teams on some level, while the biggest name -- catcher Mike Piazza -- is still unsigned as of Wednesday, when the rosters were announced by Major League Baseball.

Other familiar faces include Texas Rangers outfielder David Dellucci, Houston Astros reliever Mike Gallo, Detroit Tigers pitcher Matt Mantei, Devil Rays pitcher Dan Miceli and Yankees lefty Ron Villone.

The Italian team will be managed by Matt Galante, a longtime Astros employee and current special assistant to Houston general manager Tim Purpura. Galante's coaching staff includes pitching coach John Franco, who holds the all-time record for the most saves by a left-hander, former big league shortstop Gary DiSarcina, Mauro Mazotti, a European scout for the Seattle Mariners, Jim Mansilla, who coached Italy in the 1984 Olympics and Giampiero Faraone, Italy's manager at the Athens Olympics.

The Italian team will train in Lakeland, Fla., spring home of the Tigers, and open the WBC with the Australian team in Orlando on March 7.

The 60-man rosters of all 16 teams had to be filed with the IBAF by the Tuesday deadline so players can begin random drug testing under international rules 45 days out from the start of the tournament. Teams don't have to go to a full 60, but no player can join a roster after the deadline.

Provisional rosters allow Federations to list up to 60 players from which final 30-man rosters will be selected. Each Federation must submit its final roster, including a minimum of 13 pitchers and three catchers, prior to the start of the World Baseball Classic.

A total of 394 players under contract with Major League Baseball organizations (not including current free agents) are listed on provisional rosters, representing approximately 48 percent of the player pool. Other leagues represented on provisional rosters include: China Baseball League; Chinese Professional Baseball League; Korea Baseball Organization; Mexican Baseball League; and Nippon Professional Baseball.

The games begin in Japan's Tokyo Dome on March 3. The U.S. opens camp in Arizona at newly christened Chase Field on the same day, and plays the first round in the Phoenix area against Mexico, Canada and South Africa from March 7-10. The two finalists move on to Anaheim and play the winners of the Asian pool (Japan, China, Chinese Taipei and Korea) from March 12-16 at Angel Stadium.

The semifinals and finals are currently slated for March 18 and 20 at San Diego's two-year-old PETCO Park.

Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.