Mike Piazza Interview: WBC March 8

A day after posting a shutout, Mike Piazza and Italy were left without a run on the board. Piazza went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts in a 6-0 loss to Venezuela.

Mike, thoughts about Venezuelan pitching tonight?

Mike Piazza: Well, I think it's evident that they threw their best at us tonight, and they were on top of their game.

Defensively obviously we gave them a few runs, which against a team like Venezuela, you're not going to get away with. On one hand we're disappointed, obviously, we didn't get anything going.

Last night I was a little concerned about, tonight I should say, and then last night obviously scoring a lot of runs, it's unusual we came out a little bit flat offensively. But obviously when you're facing guys like they put out there tonight, that's understandable.

So what can you say? They put their best at us and they threw very well.

Mike, big wins against Australia and today it's different. What do you think in Italy the Italian fans are really following this game and rooting for the team?

Mike Piazza:: Well, it's tough to say. I think that the reason why we are playing, I mean, the players of Italian decent, is we're trying to get some interest to try to grow the game in Italy. And it has to start somewhere. If we gain a few more fans because of our participation, then that's what we want to do. It takes time.

Baseball in Venezuela didn't develop over one day. One year even. It was along many years of history. It started with the children. You have to start at a grass roots level, and that's the only way baseball in Italy will grow. And it starts with something like this and but it does take time.

So whatever fans are watching us, we're honored that they are following us and hopefully we'll play a little better for them tomorrow.

It was a pretty partisan crowd tonight in favor of Venezuela out there. But did you enjoy playing in that kind of lively environment with the crowd at the park tonight?

Mike Piazza:: Well, I totally agree with that. But again, I think that especially for the Italian baseball fans, I mean, they may -- it may not happen this year or the next World Classic but maybe in 20, 25 years from now, if we have the fan response like that, then we have, we'll have accomplished what we set out to do.

So like I said, we're looking down the line and hopefully one day we really love our Italian fans that have come here to follow us, but we know that our goal is to try to increase that, and that's what I think the whole idea of this tournament is. We'll see where it is 25 years from now.

Hopefully we're still all around for that, but nonetheless, that's what we're working for. And with the kid that pitched tonight, if we can get a couple of national Italian guys to pitch in the major leagues, that's what we want to do to inspire the children of Italy to believe that they can compete at a major league level. So that's obviously what our goals are.

A lot of pitchers have had reservations about playing in this tournament, but as a hitter, do you think you're going to benefit from seeing such sharp pitching this early in the season?

Mike Piazza:: Well, if tonight is benefiting, I don't know what not benefiting would be.

Actually, yeah, I mean, you know, as far as I'm concerned I felt like the stuff that I saw tonight personally was stuff I would see in June, July and August. So it is going to accelerate your development at least at this point in the season. So I look at that as a positive personally from a season standpoint. Once you get into April facing this type of competition and these type of major league arms, this early and the stuff that they're throwing and obviously the tenacity and as determined as they were tonight, I'm looking at that as something from a personal standpoint to get myself ready for the season as well.

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