Anthony Rizzo is one of only four players from the Chicago Cubs who will be participating in the World Baseball Classic, the third instance of the international baseball competition. Rizzo will be playing for Italy, as he is of Italian heritage.
The other participants from the Cubs organization have yet to play in the MLB. Ryan Searle, who spent the majority of the 2012 baseball season playing for the Cubs’ A-ball affiliate, will pitch for Australia. Yao-Lin Wang and Hung-Wen Chen will both play for Chinese Taipei, the official name in sports given to the team from Taiwan.
Chen, Searle, and Wang are all prospects in the Cubs system, and are unlikely to be seen in the MLB any time in 2013. Rizzo is the only big leaguer from the Cubs to participate. In previous World Baseball Classics, Michael Barrett, Derrek Lee, Henry Blanco, Carlos Zambrano, Kosuke Fukudome, Ted Lilly, Alex Maestri, Carlos Marmol, Vince Perkins, and Geovany Soto have all represented their countries and the Chicago Cubs in the event.
Some critics don’t like the idea of the classic, as they suspect that it takes too much out of players, especially pitchers. A player of any sport’s highest honor should be seen as participating in an international competition representing your country. Hopefully, people will eventually start to see the World Baseball Classic the same way the Olympics are seen in other sports. At the very least, it is a higher level competition for stars to get their at-bats in before the regular season gets rolling. The classic starts in March.