Former Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Mike Piazza announced on social media he has reached an agreement to manage the Italian national team in the 2021 World Baseball Classic.
Piazza added he will additionally manage Team Italy in a European tournament next year. The Hall-of-Fame backstop began his career with the Dodgers after being selected in the 62nd round of the 1988 MLB draft.
He spent parts of seven seasons with the organization, hitting .331/.394/.572 with 177 home runs and 563 RBIs en route to five All-Star appearances, 1993 National League Rookie of the Year honors, six top-10 MVP finishes and six Silver Slugger Awards.
Piazza’s stint with the Dodgers came to an end in 1998 when he was controversially traded to the Florida Marlins just two months into the regular season. He lasted all of five games with the club before being shipped to the New York Mets, where he spent the next eight seasons of his career.
Following brief stints with the San Diego Padres and Oakland Athletics, Piazza called it a career at the conclusion of the 2007 season. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2016, and though he no longer has any animosity towards the Dodgers, Piazza opted to don a Mets hat on his plaque.
With Piazza slated to serve as manager for Team Italy, it is a foregone conclusion that additional players with Dodgers ties will also participate in the 2021 World Baseball Classic.
During the 2017 tournament, the Dodgers’ strongest presence lied with Team Mexico. Adrian Gonzalez, Vidal Nuño, Sergio Romo and Alex Verdugo were named to the roster, while Julio Urias was included in Mexico’s designated pitcher pool.
Others that represented the Dodgers during the WBC were Kiké Hernandez, who was on the active roster for Puerto Rico. Rob Segedin and Minor League utility player Drew Maggi played for Team Italy, while Spring Training non-roster invitee Ike Davis and Minor League pitcher Dean Kremer received opportunities with Team Israel.
Kenley Jansen additionally joined the Netherlands national team for the semifinals, which were held at Dodger Stadium. They were defeated by Puerto Rico, who advanced to the final round to take on the United States.
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