Last week, Alex Liddi was a reserve infielder for the Seattle Mariners and the answer to a trivia question, as the first player born and raised in Italy to play in the major leagues.
Now, he's much more than that.
He's establishing himself as an everyday player. He's stirring interest in the game among his countrymen. And he's becoming the new face of European baseball, at a time when the sport is trying to mimic the NBA's successful outreach there.
Liddi, only 23, is one of the most intriguing players on a Seattle roster that has little in the way of bolted-down furniture. Mariners officials are fond of saying they need to learn more about their in-house talent. That is baseball code for, 'Great-paying jobs available. Can you hit?'
To that end, Liddi's recent play has been a revelation. After debuting in the majors last September, he has played eight games this year and collected hits in seven of them. He has the highest slugging percentage (.607...