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Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo to play for Italy in World Baseball Classic

Cubs batter Anthony Rizzo takes his turn bsixth inning Chicago Cubs-HoustAstros game Monday October 1 2012 Wrigley Field. | Tom

Cubs batter Anthony Rizzo takes his turn at bat in the sixth inning of the Chicago Cubs-Houston Astros game Monday October 1, 2012 at Wrigley Field. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Born in Fort Lauderdale and still a resident of nearby Parkland, Fla., the Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo naturally will represent Italy in the upcoming World Baseball Classic.

How close the American first baseman’s generational ties are to Italy aren’t as critical to his eligibility as the flexibility of roster-eligibility rules and, perhaps, the fact his name ends in a vowel.

Regardless, it’s the first WBC for Rizzo, who expects to open his first full season in the majors this year after a successful half-season debut for the Cubs last year.

Italy opens play WBC pool play March 7 in Phoenix against Mexico. Canada and the United States are the two other teams in the pool.

Cubs All-Star shortstop Starlin Castro will not play for his native Dominican Republic.

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