MIAMI BEACH, Florida (AP) -- 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 whomever 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," Piazza said.

Piazza, whose daughter is a student at Miami City Ballet School, will walk on stage and say a few lines in the company's May 3 production of "Slaughter on Tenth Avenue," the ballet George Balanchine choreographed as part of the 1930s musical "On Your Toes."

"If I have to take a few good-natured insults, you know, I've taken a lot of abuse before ," 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."

Piazza, who had 427 career home runs and made 12 All-Star Game appearances, didn't know anything about Balanchine when he first stepped into the rehearsal studio.

"He knows a lot about acting, which makes it a lot easier," said principal soloist Kleber Rebello, who will play the part of a jealous Russian dancer who hires Piazza's gangster to kill his rival.


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