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Team Italy confident despite 'underdog' status

PHOENIX -- Italy enters the 2013 World Baseball Classic with an impressive resume.

Italy has won 10 European championships, including the past two. However the Italians are in a pool with Canada, Mexico, the United States and are viewed largely as an underdog.

The Italians know what people expect of them and know the other teams are talented, but they have confidence in themselves and believe they have the talent necessary to turn a few heads.

"We're going to go with the underdog mentality," first baseman Anthony Rizzo said. "No one is going to expect us to win. [We want to] just sneak up and play good baseball."

Rizzo knows other teams may appear to have more talent, but the World Baseball Classic is a brief tournament, as opposed to a 162-game season, where any team can catch fire for a few weeks.

"It's not about [batting] average or ERA in this tournament," Rizzo said. "It is all about who is going to get that big hit in the right situation."

Alex Liddi is one of the players Italy will be leaning on to get that big hit.

Liddi hit .224 in 38 games with the Mariners last year and .375 in the 2009 World Baseball Classic.

As the first Italian-born player to reach the Major Leagues, Liddi has overcome obstacles and is familiar with the role of the underdog.

"It's kind of the story of my career, too," Liddi said. "I'm kind of used to that, because no one expected me to be here. It doesn't really matter to me. We just have to play the game and beat the other team."

Despite the lack of attention the Italian squad is receiving, Liddi feels their resume speaks for itself and that the team has nothing to prove. The 24-year old third baseman simply wants to win and is ignoring the outside expectations.

"We don't have to prove anything to anyone, but we really want to win so they better come ready for us," Liddi said.

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