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Segedin's homer lifts Team Italy over Cubs

Rizzo reconnects with Classic skipper; Andreoli faces parent club
MLB.com @CarrieMuskat

MESA, Ariz. -- Rob Segedin wasn't happy with his early at-bats Tuesday, and when Team Italy manager Marco Mazzieri asked if the Dodgers prospect wanted to keep playing, he said yes. It paid off as Segedin smacked a two-run home run in the ninth inning to lead Team Italy to an 8-7 victory over the Cubs in a tune-up for the World Baseball Classic.

"Knowing you made the team and coming out here in Spring Training and being able to play for Team Italy is very exciting," Segedin said. "To get this first game under your belt is great. There's such a mesh of people from Italy, American-born Italians -- it's cool to have everyone come together as a team and try to learn each other as quick as possible and create that team chemistry."

MESA, Ariz. -- Rob Segedin wasn't happy with his early at-bats Tuesday, and when Team Italy manager Marco Mazzieri asked if the Dodgers prospect wanted to keep playing, he said yes. It paid off as Segedin smacked a two-run home run in the ninth inning to lead Team Italy to an 8-7 victory over the Cubs in a tune-up for the World Baseball Classic.

"Knowing you made the team and coming out here in Spring Training and being able to play for Team Italy is very exciting," Segedin said. "To get this first game under your belt is great. There's such a mesh of people from Italy, American-born Italians -- it's cool to have everyone come together as a team and try to learn each other as quick as possible and create that team chemistry."

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:: 2017 World Baseball Classic ::

Playing against the defending World Series champs in front of 10,762 at Sloan Park will help prep the Italian team. In the 2013 World Baseball Classic, Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo played for Team Italy, which was managed then by the current skipper.

Rizzo and Mazzieri have stayed in touch since then, and the two met in Rome when Rizzo and his family traveled there one offseason. Because of the Cubs' extended 2016 season, which ended with a World Series championship, Rizzo had to tell Mazzieri that he wasn't going to join him in the Classic this year. They did meet at home plate before the game when they exchanged the lineup cards.

"We hugged at home plate," Mazzieri said. "That was great. I told him [jokingly], 'You don't love me no more.'"

The Cubs are represented on Team Italy by prospect John Andreoli, a 17th-round pick in 2011, who is playing in his first World Baseball Classic. Andreoli drew a walk with one out in the third, reached third on Brandon Nimmo's single and scored on Daniel Descalso's double.

With two outs in the fourth and a runner at first, Andreoli singled off Hector Rondon, reached third on Nimmo's single and scored on a fielding error by second baseman Ben Zobrist for a 5-1 lead.

"I've been grinding the last month with all those guys [on the Cubs] and working really hard in camp," Andreoli said. "Being in the other dugout is pretty weird, but it was fun to compete against them. It was an honor to take the field against them, and I'm glad we won."

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 Marlins Park, Tokyo Dome, Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul, Estadio Charros de Jalisco in Mexico, 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.

Team Italy will open the World Baseball Classic on Thursday against Mexico at Estadio Charros de Jalisco, live on MLB.TV and MLB Network at 9 p.m. ET. Andreoli's family will be there.

"It's still just hitting me -- the opportunity to represent a country and your heritage," Andreoli said. "This is a good atmosphere to get us ready. Down there, I'm sure it'll be wild.

"All my relatives are watching in Italy," Andreoli said. "They're all jacked up. Hopefully, we make a good run at it."

Segedin has his own cheering section in Sicily.

"Part of this is to play and compete with a bunch of the best players in the world," he said, "but the other part is to have a connection with your heritage and hopefully to establish relationships with these people for life after baseball and offseasons or whatever it may be."

So, now that Team Italy beat the defending World Series champs, does that make them the best team in the world?

"We've got to be -- at least for today," Segedin said, laughing.

• Indians prospect Luis Lugo, 23, started for Team Italy and gave up one hit over two innings. Lugo is playing in his first World Baseball Classic. He was 8-5 with a 4.04 ERA in 26 starts last year at Class A Lynchburg.

Pat Venditte showed his ambidextrous side in the fourth. Venditte threw from the right side to face the Cubs' Addison Russell and got him to pop up to the shortstop. Venditte then switched sides and threw left-handed against Jason Heyward and Miguel Montero and struck out both.

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.

Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers, Italy, John Andreoli, Rob Segedin