Rizzo will play for Team Italy in upcoming World Baseball Classic

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Rizzo will play for Team Italy in upcoming World Baseball Classic

For the first time in his career, Anthony Rizzo will enter spring training with a starting gig already locked up.

But the young slugger still wants more to spice up his spring.

According to MLB.com, Rizzo is planning to play for Team Italy in the World Baseball Classic.

Italy's first game is March 7 against Mexico in Scottsdale, Ariz., roughly 10 miles from where the Cubs play spring ball. Italy is in the same bracket as Team USA.

In the 2009 WBC, the Cubs had six players suit up and play, including Kosuke Fukudome with the Japenese team and Ted Lilly for Team USA.

Geovany Soto played for Puerto Rico in '09 as well, joining fellow former catchers Michael Barrett and Henry Blanco, who played for Team USA and Venezuela, respectively, in 2006. Derrek Lee (Team USA) and Carlos Zambrano (Venezuela) participated in the '06 Classic, too.

Jake Arrieta gives up five runs in first, Cubs fall in series-opener with Red Sox

Jake Arrieta gives up five runs in first, Cubs fall in series-opener with Red Sox

BOSTON — Andrew Benintendi hit a solo homer off Jake Arrieta during a five-run first inning, and the Boston Red Sox held on to beat the Cubs 5-4 on Friday night.

Every Boston starter had at least one hit, and Hanley Ramirez, Mitch Moreland, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Christian Vazquez drove in a run each.

Left-hander Drew Pomeranz got the win with six innings of two-run ball, surrendering solo homers to Kris Bryant and Albert Almora Jr. in the early innings before settling in. He allowed six hits and two walks while striking out seven.

Boston has won its last nine interleague games at Fenway Park.

Arrieta logged his shortest start since Aug. 28, 2014, lasting only 4 1/3 innings and giving up 10 hits and three walks with five strikeouts.

CubsTalk Podcast: Top prospect update

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USA TODAY

CubsTalk Podcast: Top prospect update

Mick Gillispie — the broadcaster for the Double-A Tennessee Smokies as well as the Cubs' spring training broadcaster — joins Tony Andracki to break down some of the organization's top prospects, analyzing the beginning of the 2017 season for guys Ian Happ, Duane Underwood, Eloy Jimenez, Chesny Young, Victor Caratini and Trevor Clifton.

Mick also explains the wackiest game in Smokies history, how a winning culture has disseminated throughout the Cubs minor-league teams and what the World Series ring ceremony was like in Tennessee.

Check out the latest edition of the CubsTalk Podcast: