Team Italy is starting to take shape as they prepare for the upcoming World Baseball Classic. Catchers Drew Butera and Francisco Cervelli, as well as first baseman Chris Colabello, have been added to the roster. All have represented Team Italy in a World Baseball Classic before with Cervelli playing in 2009, and Butera and Colabello on the 2013 roster.
Francisco Cervelli, a nine-year veteran, spent seven seasons with the Yankees before he was traded to the Pirates in 2015. He was primarily a backup in New York, but he was given the starting role in Pittsburgh. In 231 games across two seasons, Cervelli slashed .282/.373/.368, with eight homers and 76 RBI. Though he was born in Venezuela, Cervelli chose to represent the country where his father However,.
Drew Butera, the backup catcher for the Kansas City Royals, will also be representing the Italian flag come March. Butera hit .285 in 2016, with four homers and 16 RBI while backing up All-Star Salvador Perez. Butera and the Royals recently agreed on a contract that would keep him in royal blue for two more seasons. For those unfamiliar with the Royals’ depth chart, you may remember Butera as the fifth catcher to catch a no-hitter and both leagues, as well as the only catcher to ever pitch scoreless innings in both leagues.
Chris Colabello has spent the last two seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays organization. After a career year in 2015, Colabello was suspended 80 games early in the 2016 season after testing positive for PED’s. After his suspension, he spent the rest of the season at Double A and Triple A but will look to make the big league once again when spring training rolls around.
In 2013’s WBC, Team Italy went 2-1 in pool play which featured a dramatic ninth-inning comeback against Mexico, and a 14-4 mercy rule win over Canada. However, they were eliminated in the first round of brackets with close losses to the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. They were led by World Champion Cubs’ first baseman Anthony Rizzo in 2013, who has not decided whether he will be partaking in the classic in March.
Team Italy was placed in Pool D, where they will face off against Mexico, Venezuela, and Puerto Rico. They take on Team Mexico when play begins on Thursday, March 9th, 2017.