Chicago Sun-Times
with sports reporters Chris De Luca and Gordon Wittenmyer

Big rewards for Rizzo, Cubs with Italy's big WBC performance

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MESA, Ariz. - Cubs manager Dale Sveum says they're still reviewing the video records to determine just how many guys in the clubhouse owe Anthony Rizzo's cancer charity a $500 check for doubting Team Italy's chances to win a game in the World Baseball Classic.

But Italy's shocking success in the WBC could benefit Rizzo, and maybe the Cubs, a lot more than that once the season starts.

As Rizzo prepares for his first full season in the majors, it's hard to discount the value of the far more competitive, intense at-bats that he's getting in the WBC, compared to spring training at-bats.

"That's what I told him when he talked to me about going," Sveum said. " 'You're going to be part of something that'll be a playoff-type atmosphere when you're playing in games, and I think it's an experience you can't ever pass up.'

"Any experience like that is always going to be beneficial when you're in a season, in the playoffs, or anything. You've gone through some intensity that you don't go through in regular games in spring training."

With Italy's upsets of Mexico and Canada in pool play in Phoenix, that experience got extended for another week, giving Rizzo a trip to Miami for the second round - and a chance for family and friends near his home in South Florida to see him play.

"Everyone's pretty excited for it," said Rizzo as he left Cubs camp for the tournament, adding that only his dad was able to make the Phoenix part of the tourney. "If we - WHEN we - make it to the second round, it's in Miami, so maybe there's a chance for everyone to be there for that."

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This page contains a single entry by Gordon Wittenmyer published on March 10, 2013 1:02 PM.

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