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Ex-Met Piazza taking it easy in retirement

U.S. manager Mike Piazza looks on during the

U.S. manager Mike Piazza looks on during the 2011 XM All-Star Futures Game at Chase Field. (July 10, 2011) Credit: Getty Images

PHOENIX -- First of all . . . no, Mike Piazza said, he isn't following the Roger Clemens trial.

"I really don't want to say anything on that," the beloved former Met and Clemens nemesis told Newsday, smiling. "I just really want to enjoy the day. It's about the kids today."

It's not about the kids every day for Piazza, who only occasionally forays back into the game that allows him to spend much of his time traveling with his family and playing golf.

But the 42-year-old enjoys his trips back into the spotlight. Sunday, wearing a Mets cap, he managed the U.S. Team to a 6-4 victory over the World Team in the annual Futures Game at Chase Field.

"I love the game, and I'd love to still be involved somehow. I just think I don't want to work every day, if that makes any sense," Piazza said. "I've been discussing options with people, nothing real concrete. I'm just out there floating a little bit."

He didn't have to do much Sunday. Having landed the gig just a few days earlier, he said -- he already was coming here to participate in the Celebrity Softball Game -- Piazza's responsibilities included pregame and postgame interviews, waving at the crowd when his name was announced and offering pointers to players.

His real work comes with Team Italy, which he serves as batting coach. He worked with the team during spring training, and he'll travel to Panama in late September for the World Baseball Championship.

"That's been so much fun for me," he said.

Most of his time, however, is spent at his Miami Beach home with his wife and two daughters. He's become a soccer nut, watching it on television and even playing it every now and then. He also continues to work on his autobiography.

For one day, however, Piazza was back, sort of, to his old lifestyle: reporting to work at a big-league ballpark. Playing, even, if celebrity softball counts.

Said Piazza, "It's like I'm back in the saddle again."

Yankees' Romine excels. Yankees catching prospect Austin Romine, who has spent a good part of this season recovering from a concussion, entered in the sixth inning and wound up shining.

Romine, playing in his second straight Futures Game, delivered the winning hit in the eighth, a single off Kansas City prospect Kevin Herrera that drove in Rays prospect Tim Beckham for a 5-4 lead.

In the top of the ninth, Romine pursued a foul pop, got his glove stuck in the netting behind home plate, wriggled the glove loose and caught the ball near his face while falling.

"They told us before the game that 88 percent of the players here make the big leagues," said Romine, who also singled in the sixth. "It's great to play well in a high-caliber game like this."

Mets third-base prospect Jeffrey Marte also entered in the sixth and struck out swinging in the seventh.


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