Piazza's pitch swayed Rizzo to play for Italy

Piazza's pitch swayed Rizzo to play for Italy

MIAMI -- Give an assist to Mike Piazza for helping recruit Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo to Team Italy.

Team Italy manager Marco Mazzieri revealed on Wednesday that Piazza, Italy's hitting coach, took the lead to getting Rizzo to play in the World Baseball Classic.

Initially, Rizzo was under consideration to be on Team USA. His situation changed when Mark Teixeira was offered the opportunity.

Piazza lives in South Florida, and Rizzo is from Fort Lauderdale, so it was easy for the two to connect.

"Actually, Mike Piazza was the one who first talked to him about doing this," Mazzieri said. "At one point we didn't know if we could get him because he had a chance of making the USA roster. But after I think they choose to go with Teixeira, Rizzo very happily decided to play for us."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter