Galante to manage Italy in World Baseball Classic

ROME -- Houston Astros special assistant Matt Galante will manage Italy's team at next year's inaugural World Baseball Classic.

The New York-born Galante will be joined by a few other Italian-Americans on his coaching staff. Former Mets closer John Franco will be the pitching coach, and former big league shortstop Gary DiSarcina and Jim Mansilla, who coached Italy in the 1984 Olympics, also will be on the staff.

Giampiero Faraone, Italy's skipper at last year's Athens Olympics, will be the assistant manager. Mauro Mazzotti, a European scout for the Seattle Mariners, also was selected for the staff.

Rosters for the March 3-20 tournament have not yet been announced, but Italian baseball federation president Riccardo Fraccari said several Italian-Americans from Major League Baseball are likely to be included on Italy's team. Leading the way is catcher Mike Piazza.

"I don't know if we have anyone else that can play his position," Fraccari said Thursday. "He's already working on his papers."

Detroit Tigers pitcher Jason Grilli is also being considered, Fraccari said, adding that there has been an "enormous amount of
ticket requests'' for the event within Italy.

"Travel agencies are already organizing charter planes to go over," Fraccari said.

Italy will play its opening round games of the tournament in Orlando, Fla., against Australia on March 7, Venezuela a day later and the Dominican Republic on March 9.

The team will train in Lakeland, Fla., on March 3-6.

Fraccari added that 33 locally based players would be sent to major league spring training in mid-February, and several of those players will be selected for Italy's team.

DiSarcina attended Italy's annual baseball award ceremony on Dec. 8 and appeared open to further work with the Italian federation.

"We're hoping the others continue to work with us beyond the classic also,'' Fraccari said, adding that the federation is trying to arrange an appearance by Galante and Piazza in Italy to promote the tournament.