Anthony Rizzo should be in the starting lineup for team Italy’s first game in the World Baseball Classic this afternoon (2pm CST) against Mexico at Salt River Fields in Arizona. Italy next plays Canada tomorrow (3:30pm CST).
On Saturday team Italy, as part of Pool D (Italy, Mexico, Canada & United States), moves to Chase Field in Arizona where the Italians square off against the U.S. at 10pm CST.
Craig Calcaterra of Hardball Talk spoke with Rizzo following Italy’s 4-3 exhibition loss against the A’s on Tuesday and asked him his thoughts on being introduced as “Anthony RIT-tso” by the P.A. announcer.
“I think I’ll enjoy that this week,” said Rizzo.
The man Rizzo was traded for, Andrew Cashner, is listed as the Padres’ bellwether player for 2013 by Grant Brisbee of SB Nation.
“Just about the best-looking pitcher this side of Strasburg. But it’s almost certainly preferable to be the best-pitching pitcher. To do that, you have to pitch. The same caveat applies to a lot of Padres, but none more than Cashner.”
Carlos Zambrano is still searching for a big-league contract this spring while pitching for Venezuela in the WBC according to Hardball Talk. Meanwhile, Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune reports Big Z could pitch in Japan or Taiwan if he doesn’t catch on with an MLB team by the end of spring camp.
Zambrano pitched so poorly for the Marlins through 20 starts last season (5-9, 4.54) he was demoted to the bullpen in late June, finishing the season
(7-10, 4.49) with an 88 ERA+.
Barring injury, however, I think Zambrano lands an MLB offer soon enough– even if he’s so-so in the WBC. With so many teams starved for starting pitching, the 31-year-old should become an attractive arm at an affordable price.
Cubs scouts were on hand to watch left-hander Scott Kazmir throw in a B Game with the Indians this week. As Matt Snyder of CBS Sports points out, Kazmir is only 29-years-old.
“Remember, this is a two-time All-Star who led the American League in strikeouts in 2007 when he was only 23. He appeared to have long-lasting ace potential until he fell apart from 2009-11, culminating with a 17.02 ERA in five starts for Triple-A Salt Lake in 2011. His major issue was control, as Kazmir walked 20 hitters in 15 1/3 innings during that short Triple-A stint. The four spring innings this year are far too small a sample to reach any firm conclusion, but the zero walks so far are a great sign.”
I thought the Cubs would give Kazmir a stronger look last offseason considering they had Randy Wells, Andy Sonnastine and Chris Volstad as rotation possibilities. But if Kazmir shows signs of becoming his old self again, there’s certain to be plenty of competition to land his services.