Rizzo heads to 2nd round with Team Italy

MESA, Ariz. -- Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo will move on with Team Italy as they travel to Miami for round two of the World Baseball Classic.

Rizzo was given the OK by the Cubs to play in his first international tournament before the WBC began competition last week. The surprising Italian team advanced with a 2-1 first round record.

Rizzo was in Cubs camp on Sunday to get in some final work with Cubs coaches before departing.

“It has been a lot of fun,” Rizzo said. “I expected to be back in camp today (for the duration of the spring) but that is the beauty of the game. (The Cubs) are so supportive. This is a huge deal for the country of Italy.”

Rizzo’s patriotism for his Italian heritage has been awakened during his week with the team.

“Seeing the guys from Italy come here and the joy that they have coming to play here, what it means to them, it kind of has gotten to me, too. I am kind of doing it for them and the team.

“My dad talked to one of my cousins who lives in Italy and everyone is going crazy there now.”

Rizzo, who is hitting .273 with three RBIs in his first 11 at-bats, is looking forward to his first Italian food as he returns to his hometown of Miami for the second round.

“We haven’t really had an Italian spread yet, but returning home I know my brothers will be cooking so I will get some good food. My friends are excited, they are going to dress up like the (Super) Mario brothers.”