Mike Piazza prepares for role in upcoming Miami City Ballet production

We're not sure 16 major league seasons crouching behind the plate is the best preparation for a stint in ballet, but former Dodgers, Marlins and Mets great Mike Piazza will give it a shot anyway when he takes the stage for the Miami City Ballet next month.

It was announced on Wednesday that Piazza has been selected to play the role of a gangster in the production of "Slaughter on Tenth Avenue," which will take place on May 3. It's said Piazza will wear a 1920s style gangster costume (which you can see him being fitted for in the photo above), say a few lines and then watch the rest of the performance from a seat onstage.

Not a huge role. but all artists have to start somewhere.

Piazza was quoted as saying he wants his character to swagger convincingly on stage but won't actually "dancing" in his costume. So if you were picturing something like Hulk Hogan wearing a tutu in Mr. Nanny, you're probably disappointed by most of this news, but it's still a pretty cool opportunity for Piazza and a challenge he's obviously looking forward to.

From the Associated Press:

Mike Piazza knows that some people think it's funny for a baseball player to take up ballet, but the former catcher hopes to turn whoever is jeering him now into dance fans when he takes the stage with Miami City Ballet next month.

''You gotta sometimes have the courage to go out there and do something like this, and I think the overall effect will be positive.''

It's said the main reason Piazza is getting in on the ballet act is to support his six-year-old daughter, who's currently a student at the Miami City Ballet School. But he also wants to bring awareness to the art of dance and help enhance its image in the eyes of those who don't understand or appreciate it.

''If I have to take a few good-natured insults, you know, I've taken a lot of abuse before so, no question, I've got big shoulders,'' he said. ''The bottom line is to draw attention to the show, to the arts, the art of ballet and dancing in general. It's something I'm very excited about.''

I can certainly respect that and wish Piazza well in stage debut on May 3.

Oh, and before we go, here are a couple more photos of Piazza during his preparation.

The full costume.

This might be where they ruled out a dancing role.

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