Marco Mazzieri and Drew Butera pregame interviews March 13
Q. In Puerto Rico I was watching the Italian roster, and I wanted to talk about the level of the Italian players.
MARCO MAZZIERI: (From Spanish) yes, the idea before coming to the United States was to bring the boys who won the European tournament in Holland and Big League baseball players like Campo because it is important to win here but also to develop our own players. And I think we dealt with it very well. What's coming out is coming out well.
Q. Can you talk about the rivalry Italy has with the Netherlands?
MARCO MAZZIERI: Well, this has been a very long time rivalry, but I have very good friends with the Netherlands team, and I have a tremendous respect for the program and for Robert Eenhoorn who put it together. With that said, of course I'd like to beat them as much as they'd like to beat us, and luckily we were able to do that the last couple of years in the European Championship, back to back in '10 and '12. But again, I have tremendous respect, and I think what they accomplished in the last ten or more years, it's something that we're looking forward to.
Q. Do they have an advantage in the access to more Caribbean players?
MARCO MAZZIERI: Well, of course it's easier for them to get players from the Caribbean, but we don't look at that. I'm really focused on developing our guys and possibly to add good players as we did for this tournament to our guys. I don't think that is an advantage at all.
We would like to get players from all over the U.S. a little bit more, but we can't. So we've just got to go with what we have and to develop that.
Q. I was going to ask you about Anthony Rizzo, the first baseman, being a local kid here from south Florida. How did you guys figure out the Italian connection and how did he sort of become a member of the team? And what has he meant to the team having somebody who plays for the Cubs and is sort of a young up and coming player, maybe somebody as an example for other Italian players?
MARCO MAZZIERI: Well, I don't like to play -- to talk too much about single guys because I think even though he's a tremendous young player, I think the other guys we have like Drew, like Jason Grilli, like Denorfia, like Punto, those guys, they mean the world to me, not only because they are good players but because they are great people. I really never get tired of saying that because we've got a tremendous group of guys, and that's what I'm proud of. And I think Anthony, yes, it's very important. Actually Mike Piazza was the one who first talked to him about doing this, and at one point we didn't know if we could get him because he had a chance of making the USA roster, but after I think they choose to go with Teixeira, he very happily decided to play for us and we are very happy because he's not only a great kid but he's a tremendous player.
Q. You talked about developing players. Specifically pitching, what are some of the challenges and what are some of the things that you're doing to develop some arms in the country?
MARCO MAZZIERI: Actually that would be a better question to our pitching coach Bill Holmberg who's the director of our academy in Italy. We have an academy that started seven years ago, and we're developing young players through that. And we had some guys sign contracts with Major League teams. That is probably the part we are lacking a little bit because we don't have those great arms, and we're trying to develop what we have. I think Luca Panerati and Tiago and Alessandro Maestri is a perfect example of those guys. And it's tough because we don't get that many players, so we've got to take the most out of those guys we have. That's all we can do.
I mean, we would like to have like 25,000 players to choose from. We don't have that luxury. So we kind of can't control that, and we control what we can do, which is developing what we have.
Q. Drew, your thoughts on catching so far the Italian pitching?
DREW BUTERA: They've made my job pretty easy, throw strikes. They mix speeds very well, and any time you get a combination like that it makes my job easy. I've enjoyed the experience.
Q. Can you elaborate on tonight's pitcher a little bit? I think you've caught him before.
DREW BUTERA: Sure. I don't want to give too much away, but he's got a good command with his fastball and he's got a changeup split and a curveball, likes to throw all of them for strikes. He likes to attack the hitters, goes right after them, and says here it is, here's my stuff, and hit it. So it's good.
Q. Drew, you played winter baseball in Puerto Rico a couple of years ago, so how would you compare the style maybe of the baseball you saw in Puerto Rico with maybe the baseball that comes from the players from Italy that you're playing right now?
DREW BUTERA: It's a little different. I've come to know that Latin baseball is a little more aggressive as far as being at the plate and possibly taking some bases, stealing bases here and there. When I played in Puerto Rico and this past year in Dominican, it was very much like a party, like a fiesta. I had a great time, but the games took five and a half hours, six hours, which is okay, but comparison as far as baseball, the biggest thing I know is some of the Italian players, which is great, because that's how American style play is, take some pitches, get deep into the counts. Whereas Latin American baseball, if I'm seeing it, I'm swinging at it.
Q. Do you like what you see from Italian baseball?
MARCO MAZZIERI: I do, very much so, yes.
Q. Obviously you have a few players that are connected to Major League affiliated teams, but since the tournament started and you guys have done so well obviously, I wonder have you been approached by more scouts interested in maybe bringing some of these players to America to play here?
MARCO MAZZIERI: No, I did not have any questions about our players from different scouts. The only thing I can tell you is that we have a young kid at our academy and about 10 scouts already came down to see him, and I think he's going to be signing soon. I'm not going to tell you his name because he's already a little -- getting too much of a big head from my point of view.