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Italian lineage paves road to Classic for LaTorre

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Tyler LaTorre was always proud of his Italian heritage. But until recently, he didn't realize that it would broaden his baseball horizons.

LaTorre, 29, has never played above Triple-A during seven Minor League seasons in the Giants organization. But in one significant respect, he belongs with the likes of Pablo Sandoval, Marco Scutaro and Jeremy Affeldt, among others.

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LaTorre, a non-roster invitee to big league camp, will represent Italy in the upcoming World Baseball Classic. A native of Santa Cruz, Calif., LaTorre has dual citizenship that allows him to play for the country of his roots.

LaTorre said that Tom Trebelhorn, manager of the Giants' Rookie-Level Salem-Keizer affiliate who coached for Italy in the 2009 Classic, advised him after that competition to examine his ancestry with the objective of playing in the 2013 event. LaTorre complied, doggedly spending two years searching for documents and obtaining birth and marriage certificates to detail his lineage.

LaTorre, a catcher who hit .278 in 42 games for Fresno last season, obtained his Italian citizenship in time to participate in last year's European Championship in Amsterdam, which Italy won.

That triumph helped LaTorre realize the depth of national pride among his teammates.

"Guys who had been living in the same house with their families for their whole lives were crying with happiness," LaTorre said.

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