Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo knows the Italian team faces an uphill climb in the World Baseball Classic.
Team Italy will play Mexico on March 7 and face Canada the next day, followed by a game March 9 against the U.S. squad.
“We’re in a pretty tough bracket, so hopefully we can have a few upsets there,” Rizzo said Wednesday.
His great-grandfather is from Sicily, which is how Rizzo was selected.
“Obviously, I’d love to play for [the U.S. team], that was my first choice, but they have all the ‘mon-stars’ on there,” Rizzo said during a Cubs Caravan stop. “Italy is a great opportunity. I come from a strong Italian background. It’s a pretty cool experience.”
He would’ve been joined by Cubs outfielder Tony Campana on the Italian squad.
“Campana was going to play, but he couldn’t find his paperwork,” Rizzo said.
The catch, Campana said, was that he couldn’t produce a birth certificate for his grandparents.
The World Baseball Classic rosters will be officially released on Thursday. Italy’s first-round games will be played at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick in Scottsdale, Ariz., so Rizzo won’t have to travel far for the tournament.