Liddi: Italian ‘ambassador’ of baseball

Mariners third baseman Alex Liddi was honored for his role as the "Italian ambassador to baseball" by Italian Federation president Riccardo Fraccari.

Mariners third baseman Alex Liddi’s celebrity in his homeland continues to grow since becoming the first Italian born-and-raised baseball player to reach the Major Leagues last year.

Liddi was honored recently by the Italania baseball federation — officially known as Federazione Italiana Baseball Softball (FIBS) — in an event that drew a record 800 fans to the season-ending gala at the city’s theater.

FIBS president Riccardo Fraccari called Liddi “the real ambassador of Italian baseball” after he became the first player from his country to play in the Major Leagues since 1954 and the first-ever who grew up playing strictly in his homeland.

“They keep asking me if I feel like the ambassador of the game in Italy,” Liddi said in an interview after the event. “And I keep repeating it’s a great honor that people feel like this.

“Italian kids can understand now that I made it, that everybody can make it to the Big Leagues, provided they know what working hard means,” he said. “To make it to the Major Leagues, talent is not enough.”

Liddi, 23, acknowledged in the interview that the first few days with the Mariners were pretty overwhelming.

“I really overreacted, trying to do too much,” he said. “But when I understood players in the Big Leagues do have two legs, two arms and breathe like I do, things became easier.”

Liddi, who grew up in Sanremo, Italy, wound up hitting .225 with three home runs and six RBIs in 40 at-bats while playing 15 games as a September call-up. He’ll be given a shot to compete for the third-base job this spring with the Mariners, who also have Kyle Seager and Chone Figgins returning at that position.

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