3/6 Rizzo homers for Italy

Team Italy lost 4-3 to the Athletics in an exhibition game in Phoenix on Tuesday but Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo made a dent in the scoreboard. Rizzo led off the fourth with a home run off the scoreboard at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. He connected off right-hander Henry Rodriguez. Rizzo seems to be enjoying the experience.

“It was kind of cool hearing the Italian anthem and the national anthem,” he said. “Once you get between the lines, it’s just baseball and I’m playing the A’s and I’m familiar with them.”

Team Italy will play another exhibition on Wednesday, then open the World Baseball Classic on Thursday against Mexico, followed by a game Friday against Canada and then Saturday night against the U.S. team.

“They played hard,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said of the Italian team. “Until you see a team a couple of times, it’s really tough to tell what they’re like. You know Rizzo is going to do some damage. There were four guys in the lineup we knew something about, the others not so much. It looks like a nice team.”

— Carrie Muskat

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