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Venezuela's win has Rondon pumped to join team

MLB.com @CarrieMuskat

MESA, Ariz. -- Cubs reliever Hector Rondon said Tuesday he will join Team Venezuela for the second round of the World Baseball Classic. Venezuela beat Italy, 4-3, on Monday night to advance, and it will face Team USA on Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET in San Diego.

Rondon, 29, who watched Venezuela's win over Italy on Monday, said he was excited to pitch for his country.

MESA, Ariz. -- Cubs reliever Hector Rondon said Tuesday he will join Team Venezuela for the second round of the World Baseball Classic. Venezuela beat Italy, 4-3, on Monday night to advance, and it will face Team USA on Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET in San Diego.

Rondon, 29, who watched Venezuela's win over Italy on Monday, said he was excited to pitch for his country.

"I want to go there so bad, and hopefully everything is good there when I pitch for my teammates and I can support my country," Rondon said.

:: 2017 World Baseball Classic ::

He does know Venezuela manager Omar Vizquel from playing together in winter ball a couple years ago.

"The only thing he told me was to come and pitch like normal, and that's good [advice] for the team and for me especially," Rondon said.

Rondon began last season as the Cubs' closer, then moved to a setup role when the team acquired Aroldis Chapman. Rondon was on the disabled list last August with a strained right tricep, but he feels 100 percent healthy this spring.

Pitching in the playoffs last year also could help prepare Rondon for the World Baseball Classic.

"It's good for him," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "He's really excited about representing his country. Watching him throw, he's in good shape and ready to go. I think getting into that competition now is good for him. It's a win-win situation."

Video: Maddon discusses Rondon joining Team Venezuela

"I feel it's going to be intense for me and exciting, too," Rondon said. "I've never pitched for my country. I feel maybe it'll be the same adrenaline as in the playoffs and World Series. Hopefully, everything goes good for me."

The World Baseball Classic runs through March 22. In the U.S., games air live exclusively in English on MLB Network and on an authenticated basis via MLBNetwork.com/watch, while ESPN Deportes and WatchESPN provide the exclusive Spanish-language coverage. MLB.TV Premium subscribers in the U.S. have access to watch every tournament game live on any of the streaming service's 400-plus supported devices. The tournament is being distributed internationally across all forms of television, internet, mobile and radio in territories excluding the U.S., Puerto Rico and Japan. Get tickets for games at Tokyo Dome and Petco Park, as well as the Championship Round at Dodger Stadium, while complete coverage -- including schedules, video, stats and gear -- is available at WorldBaseballClassic.com.

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast.

Venezuela, Chicago Cubs, Hector Rondon