PHOENIX -- Italy won't officially begin the 2013 World Baseball Classic until it plays Mexico on Thursday, but the players have already begun to acknowledge the sense of pride that comes with representing their country.
"Of course you take a lot of pride in this competition," Alex Liddi said. "We are looking forward to giving a good impression and not only playing good, but winning the games and going as far as we can."
The Italians had their first day of camp Monday at Papago Baseball Facility, and finally getting everyone together in one clubhouse after months of anticipation, brought everyone's emotions and excitement to life.
"It is nice to get together finally," Liddi said. "It was a long wait. I was excited, so I'm happy to be here today and see everybody again."
Liddi, a native of Italy, was already familiar with a lot of the guys on the Italian roster, but Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo did not have that luxury as camp began.
The 23-year-old Rizzo barely speaks Italian, but is just as excited to be competing for the pride of a country.
"It's pretty cool so far, just getting to know everyone and seeing a different style and culture," Rizzo said. "The reason to do it is to compete on an international level. I think this is going to be a great experience."