Dan Serafini still looks like he can pitch in the major leagues. The trim, 39-year-old left-handed pitching maintained his fitness preparing for and doing what he loves more than anything except for his family.
Serafini, who graduated from Serra High in San Mateo, can stand on the pitcher’s mound and do things with a baseball that only a fraction of the world is capable of doing. He can get professional hitters out.
He’s in Phoenix this week as a member of Team Italy, part of the World Baseball Classic. The Italians open competition against Mexico on Thursday afternoon at nearby Scottsdale. Serafini works out of the bullpen because of his ability to work consecutive days.
“This is my life, this is what I do,” he said, spreading his arms out in front of the visiting dugout at Phoenix Muni Stadium as emphasis. “It just so happens it’s fun to do and I get to travel and see the world.”
Italy, playing in the same group as the United States, Canada and Mexico, hasn’t been given much of a chance to advance but that’s OK with some of the Italian players.
San Francisco Giants’ catching prospect and Santa Cruz native Tyler LaTorre insists Italy can shock the world. The Italians did win the European Championship last September, LaTorre reminds anyone who listens, by beating the Netherlands in Amsterdam.
The Dutch have already qualified for the next round, knocking out the Koreans. Chinese Taipei, Japan and Cuba are also in the next round.
“We’re going to go out and have fun,” LaTorre said. “We’re a scrappy team. No one is giving us a shot but that’s the nature of baseball.”
Serafini, raised in San Bruno, hopes to convince someone he can make a contribution to a major league organization.
He threw the ball well enough at Serra to convince the Minnesota Twins to make him their first round draft pick in 1992 the 26th player drafted overall. Even with a college scholarship to Miami in hand, Serafini jumped at the chance to take his game to the professional level.
Serafini reached the majors with the Twins in 1996 and consequently spent parts of seven seasons in the big leagues with the Chicago Cubs, San Diego Padres, Pittsburgh Pirates, Cincinnati Reds and Colorado Rockies.
He last appeared in the majors in 2007 with the Rockies and pitched against the San Francisco Giants. He owns a 15-16 record with 127 strikeouts and a 6.01 ERA.
Serafini spent 3 1/2 years in Japan before joining the Rockies. He was shot up with drugs in Japan to help him recover from a leg injury. More than four months in a cast caused his leg to lose strength and volume. All he knew was the drugs were some kind of steroid legal in Japan.
Following the 2007 season, Serafini tested positive for a performance-enhancing substance and suspended 50 games. He feels he never received a fair hearing. The Japanese doctor refused to testify without being guaranteed substantial financial compensation.
“I passed every test in Japan,” he said. “Without the doctor’s testimony, I didn’t have a chance. So I was labeled with it and teams aren’t willing to give me a chance.”
He’s been pitching in Mexico and independent leagues the past five years, still hoping, maybe dreaming, of another shot.
Until then, there’s always Team Italy.
CSM Baseball Coach Visits Team Italy
College of San Mateo baseball coach Doug Williams spent Tuesday at Phoenix Muni visiting his friend, Italy coach Marco Mazzieri.
Mazzieri played for Team Italy at the same time Williams played for CSM and coach John Noce, who has worked with Italian ballplayers over the years and still travels to Italy.
Mazzieri spent a fall working out with the Bulldogs and they stayed in touch over the years. Williams said CSM had a bye so he jumped on a plane and came down.
Major League Experience for Team Italy
Frank Catalanotto, Mike Piazza and Tom Trebelhorn all serve as coaches for Team Italy.
In addition to Serafini, former or current major leaguers playing include Jason Grilli, Brian Sweeney, Drew Butera, Alex Liddi (who was born in Sanremo, Italy), Nick Punto and Chris Denorfia.
Read more on Patch:
- Caltrain Strikes Empty Car on Tracks in San Bruno
- Sheriff Reports String of Eichler Home Burglaries
- Sentencing Delayed for Former Aragon High Coach Involved With Student
- Forbes Reveals Richest Peninsula Residents
- Illegal Mattress Dumping Plagues Peninsula