Adam Ottavino reminisces about playing for Team Italy in the 2009 World Baseball Classic

On March 10, 2009, Team Italy starting pitcher Adam Ottavino threw three scoreless inning and struck out three Venezuelan batters in the 2009 World Baseball Classic (WBC) at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Canada. Although he declined invitations to once again participate in the WBC, Adam Ottavino still feels a strong connection to Italy. During the 2014 World Cup, he was seen walking around the Colorado Rockies clubhouse wearing a Mario Balotelli Italia soccer jersey.

On a recent episode of Intentional Talk with Chris Rose and Kevin Millar on the MLB Network, free agent reliever Adam Ottavino was questioned about playing for Team Italy in the 2009 WBC. He lit up and smiled before responding. "That was awesome...pitching against Venezuela at the Rogers Centre in Toronto and having Francisco Cervelli as my catcher. He said that he knew the Venezuelan hitters, and he sure did. Yeah, that was fun. I was super nervous. I had never faced hitters of that caliber before. I think that I was in Double-A around that time. It was awesome. I had a blast."

When asked if he would join Team Italy in the future, Adam Ottavino remained optimistic. "I've always wanted to do it again, but it just has not worked out since." One of the highlights of his experience playing in the 2009 World Baseball Classic was working with Team Italy coach Mike Piazza. "He was awesome as a coach. We talked a lot actually. He was just a super positive guy, who was awesome to have around every day. It was just really cool. Growing up in New York, he was larger than life to me. To get to know him a little bit, it was definately cool."

Last winter the 33-year-old MLB free agent embraced the Driveline Baseball offseason program to help reinvent himself. 20090310 WBC 09 Italia-venezuela adam ottavinoAdam Ottavino set a Colorado Rockies franchise record for relievers with 112 strikeouts this past season thanks in part to his newly-implemented offseason regiment centered around the purchase of a Rapsodo device and a $16,000 Edgertronic SC2 high-speed camera to capture his spin rate. He spent a week at Driveline Baseball headquarters in Seattle to learn how to best use the new technology for better results on getting hitters to not only swing more at his pitches, but also on how to induce soft contact. During his time in the Emerald City, he developed a two-seamer and addressed flawed pitching mechanics. 

In 2018, Adam Ottavino began to throw his cutter more and used an improved spin rate on his slider to limit his opponents to a minuscule .154 batting average, which is nearly a 100-point percentage drop from his career average. He set career bests in wins, ERA, appearances, strikeouts, K/9, and WAR. As one of the finest closers in the game, Adam Ottavino kept runners off the basepaths with a mind-blowing 0.99 WHIP. Being a free agent in demand, his name is on every team's bullpen wish list during the current MLB Winter Meetings in Las Vegas, Nevada. Regardless what team lands Adam Ottavino for the 2019 season, let's just hope the franchise gives him the okay to pitch for Team Italy in the 2021 World Baseball Classic. Forza #Italia! #LetsMakeItHappen

by Roberto Angotti