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Rizzo formally named to Italy's roster in Classic

CHICAGO -- First baseman Anthony Rizzo headlines a short list of Cubs players who will participate in the World Baseball Classic.

Rizzo will play for Team Italy, while pitcher Ryan Searle will play for Australia and prospect Yao-Lin Wang and former Minor Leaguer Hung-Wen Chen will pitch for Chinese Taipei.

Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro told media in the Dominican Republic that he wanted to play for his country's team, but he was not on the roster, released Thursday.

Rizzo, 23, and the Italian team are in the same pool as Mexico, Canada and Team USA.

"We're in a pretty tough bracket, so hopefully we can have a few upsets there," Rizzo said.

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.

Searle, 23, spent most of the 2012 season with Class A Daytona and posted a 6-3 record and 4.22 ERA in 32 games (three starts). He also pitched briefly for Double-A Tennessee and appeared in two games with Triple-A Iowa. For the year, he was 8-5 with a 3.87 ERA in 42 games (five starts).

In 2011, he pitched for the Australian Baseball League in the Baseball World Cup and was 3-1 with a 3.66 ERA in five games.

Wang appeared in 37 games for Class A Peoria and was 3-2 with 12 saves in 14 opportunities and a 3.19 ERA in 28 games, and went 1-3 with a 4.57 ERA in nine starts. Combined, he struck out 82 over 78 innings and walked 27.

The right-hander, who turns 22 on Feb. 5, made one start on Nov. 15 for Chinese Taipei in the World Baseball Classic qualifier against New Zealand. He threw 3 2/3 shutout innings, giving up four hits and striking out three in Chinese Taipei's seven-inning 10-0 win.

Chen, who pitched in the Cubs' Minor League system from 2007-11, was on the Chinese Taipei national baseball team in the 2008 World Baseball Classic. The right-hander, who turns 27 on Feb. 3, appeared in relief Nov. 18 in Chinese Taipei's 9-0 win over New Zealand in a World Baseball Classic qualifier finale. He struck out three of the four batters he faced over 1 1/3 innings.

Chinese Taipei will be in Pool B, the same World Baseball Classic bracket as Korea, Australia and the Netherlands. Chinese Taipei begins with a game March 2 against Australia.

Cubs players who have participated in the World Baseball Classic in the past include Michael Barrett, Derrek Lee, Henry Blanco and Carlos Zambrano in 2006; and Kosuke Fukudome, Ted Lilly, Alex Maestri, Carlos Marmol, Vince Perkins, and Geovany Soto in 2009.

Chicago Cubs, Italy, Hung-Wen Chen, Anthony Rizzo, Ryan Searle, Yao-Lin Wang