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Alex Liddi was not the first
Italian born Wisconsin Timber Rattlers player.
Claudio Liverziani has that honor. Liverziani
first came to Appleton in 1997. Tim
Spencer of the Appleton Post-Crescent
has the story from the April 29th edition of the paper.
HE'S COME A LONG WAY
Native of Italy wants to more than a novelty
After all he's accomplished
in the last nine months, Claudio Liverziani should be content to sit back and
drink it all in.
The rest of us surely would.
Last July, the 22-year-old Wisconsin Timber Rattlers outfielder led his native
Italian Olympic baseball team to an unprecedented defeat of Korea and best-ever
fifth-place finish at the Atlanta Summer Games.
And if that wasn't enough, in August, Liverziani was signed to a professional
contract by the Seattle Mariners organization, joining fellow countryman David
Rigoli as the only two Italian players currently playing professional baseball
in the United States.
But the importance of what he's done just doesn't seem to dawn on Liverziani.
Instead, it left him hungry for more.
"I've always thought I was good enough to play professional baseball over
here," said Liverziani. "I never
wanted to be just another good player from Italy.
"It's not like I've made it here either, but when things start going bad
and it looks like I won't reach the majors, I won't head back to Italy happy
with what I've done. I want to
reach the top. I'm not going to
look back and think what a great experience this was unless I make it all the
way. It's a job for me.
It's also a trade Liverziani began learning at an early age.
His father, who played in the Italian leagues in the 1950's and 60's,
provided Liverziani his first glimpse at baseball.
Later, it was the oddity of the game that beckoned him to baseball.
"I remember wanting to play this strange sport," he said.
"I grew up playing both baseball and basketball and when I was 16 I had
to make a choice between the two. Maybe
I made the right choice."
Liverziani quickly moved through the youth ranks of Italian baseball eventually
finding a spot on the junior national team.
From there he joined Novaro of the Italian Baseball League, providing Liverziani
with his first glimpse of the game on a professional level.
"From what I've seen, I'd say the Italian league is like advanced single A
over here," Liverziani said. "We
used to face ex-major league pitchers and players sometimes so the competition
is pretty good. We're obviously
improving as a country. I think the
Olympics showed that."
While playing for the national team, Liverziani first caught the eye of Mariners
scout Mauro Mazzotti. But the
Seattle organization failed in its first attempt to sign Liverziani.
"I had a chance to sign before the Olympics but didn't go through with it
because I thought I wasn't ready to play professionally here," said
Liverziani, who signed a one-year deal. "Now,
I think I'm ready."
So do the Mariners.
"We knew he was one of the best players on the Italian team," said Greg
Hunter, Seattle's assistant director of player development.
"He's definitely a legitimate prospect.
"But also at the same time, from a player development standpoint, just because
of where he's from doesn't mean he'll get any preferential treatment.
This is not an experiment."
On the field, Liverziani who bats left-handed and throws right is off to a solid
start with the Rattlers.
He's batting close to .300 and has yet to commit an error.
"I think he's got a real good idea of how to hit," said Rattlers manager
Gary Varsho. "You're not going
to see him hit a lot of home runs to right field but he's got a real nice
stroke. He handles himself well at
the plate and I haven't seen him overmatched up there yet.
He's adapted well."
How many times have you seen a player get a feature story in the paper and have
a horrible line in the boxscore on the same day?
That did not happen with Liverziani.
He went 2-for-3 with five RBI, including a grand slam in an 11-2 victory
over Burlington on April 28
Liverziani played just two seasons in the United States.
He spent both the 1997 and 1998 seasons with the Timber Rattlers.
Reference page notes that he played 214 games with eight homers and 64 RBI
for the Rattlers.
Mauro Mazzotti was a manager for Telemarket Rimini of the Italian Baseball
League. He is now the manager of the
Spanish National Baseball team.
Liverziani returned to Italy after the 1998 season and his Bullpen
page notes that he played for Rimini from 1999-2001 and Fortitudo Bologna
from 2002 through 2009. He was the
MVP of the Italian League in 2001 and was the playoff MVP in 2009.
Liverziani has had his name pop up in stories over the years.
He played for Italy in the 2006 World Baseball Classic gets a couple of mentions
in this New York Times story.
ORLANDO, Florida - When
Claudio Liverziani of Team Italia grounded to short against the Dominican
Republic last week in the first World Baseball Classic, the man reaching to make
the out at first base was Albert Pujols, the National League's most valuable
player whose contract this year will bring him $14 million.
It was a once-in-a-lifetime flash of
proximity, good-natured obscurity superimposed for a fraction of a second on a
kind of sports grandeur:Liverziani, an advertising space salesman due back at
work Monday morning, who picks up about 10,000, or $11,900, a year playing
weekends for Fortuna Bologna in the Italian League, and Pujols of the St. Louis
Cardinals, one of baseball's hot, young, fungible faces.
For his effort, Liverziani entered the
notional Golden Book of baseball. One time at bat (he walked), no hits, for an
official average of .000. Not great, although for all World Baseball Classic
eternity no worse this time than a hitless Andruw Jones of the Netherlands and
his $75 million six-year contract with the Atlanta Braves.
"I'm enormously happy I played,"
Liverziani said before rushing home. "It's one of the best things I've ever
done in my life. It was being in the big leagues for a week."
More on Liverziani's WBC
experience may be found at the above link.
He also became the seventh player in Italian
League history to reach 1,000 hits.
has not played since 2009 because of this:
Baseball.it reports on Wednesday that the National Anti-Doping Tribunal of
the Italian Olympic Committee CONI with Chairman Francesco
Plotino imposes a suspension of two years against Claudio Liverziani of the
Italian Baseball League club Fortitudo Bologna. He will be banned until October
was tested positive on an amphetamine after a semi-final round game against
Cariparma on July 25. In
November the anti-doping prosecutor recommended the two-year suspension
according to article 10.2 of the WADA code. Liverziani
is 34 years old and batted .298 (OBP .482/SLG .468) with four
homeruns and 33 RBI in 42 games during the regular season.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.