Mike Piazza was formally introduced as manager of the Italian national baseball team on Friday. In his press conference, the former Dodger took the time to acknowledge Tommy Lasorda, his former manager.
Hall of Fame catcher Mike Piazza has been hired to manage Italy’s national baseball team. His strategy? “Be aggressive, take chances and do the little things right.”
— AP Sports (@AP_Sports) November 29, 2019
Lasorda convinced Piazza to switch from first base to catcher at the beginning of his career, which ended up lasting 16 seasons before being inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2016. Lasorda, Piazza said, was one of the first people he called when he was hired to manage Italy.
“His style may be a little dated for lack of a better term, but he was very inspiring and the way he ran the team was he inspired you to achieve more than you thought you were capable of achieving,” Piazza told Andrew Dampf of the Associated Press. “So that’s the one thing I want to bring in.”
Lasorda, now 92 years old, still serves as a mentor to Piazza as he heads into his first managerial job.
Piazza expects to manage Italy through the 2020 European Baseball Championship and the 2021 World Baseball Classic, although his current contract only runs through 2020.
The Hall of Famer previously played for Italy in the 2006 WBC and served as a hitting coach in 2009 and 2013. He holds dual American and Italian citizenship.
His only demand before agreeing to take the job was full control of Italy’s entire baseball system, all the way down to the youth teams. Piazza felt that it was important for him to do so in order to create a “single philosophy that will permeate throughout the Italian baseball program.”
As he looks to Lasorda for guidance, Piazza acknowledged that “we have a lot of work to do.”