MESA, Ariz. - Anthony Rizzo made a surprise appearance at Cubs camp Sunday - the surprise, of course, being that he wasn't back in camp for good.
Instead, he was just stopping by to get some of his stuff for his trip to Miami with the Cinderella team of the World Baseball Classic tournament.
"It's just huge for the country of Italy," said Rizzo, who had a game-winning hit in the ninth inning to shock Mexico and contributed to a trouncing of Canada as Team Italy advanced to the second round of the WBC.
"It's been a lot of fun so far,'' he said. "I expected to be back in camp today, but that's the beauty of this game is that on a given day any given team can win."
Rizzo, a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., native who hopes someday to represent the U.S. in the WBC, said he's been inspired by the native Italians on the team.
"The joy they have coming to play here and what it means to them has kind of gotten to me, too," he said.
Rizzo said he's heard through his dad about extended family in Italy following his exploits and the team's. "Everyone's insane and happy right now," he said. "So are the guys in the clubhouse. We just want to keep it rolling."
Italy and Team USA both advanced from the Phoenix pool. They join Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic in second-round pool play Tuesday through Friday. Two from the pool advance to the tournament semifinals in San Francisco.
Rizzo expects a big turnout from family and friends in the hometown round this week.
"I'm sure it'll be fun," he said. "A couple of my friends said they're going to dress up as the Mario Brothers."