Rizzo ready to experience team Italy

MESA, Ariz. -- Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo will join team Italy on Monday to participate in the World Baseball Classic.

The young Cubs slugger will miss at least a week of training camp as he prepares for his first taste of international baseball.

“It is going to be good,” Rizzo said. “Hopefully we can shock some people and play good baseball.

“To throw on an international jersey (will be fun),” he said. “Just growing up watching the Olympics, the World Cups. That will be cool although it is not USA. I think it will still be cool to be in something like this.”

Rizzo is leaving without any trepidation, having received a full endorsement from the Cubs management group to participate in the tournament. When he returns, the Cubs are expecting a breakout season from Rizzo.

”I asked Dale (Sveum) as well as Jed (Hoyer)and Theo (Epstein for permission),” Rizzo said. “Dale wants me in camp and obviously I want to be in camp so we can build as a team. For the time I will be gone I don’t think it will be much of a distraction.”

Rizzo’s father will be at the games and Rizzo admits to having taken some good natured ribbing from his friends and family.

“A lot of my family texted me in Italian, just messing around,” Rizzo said. “They are all excited too, because this is something unique that does not happen every day.”