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John Andreoli celebrates after hitting a seventh-inning homer against Venezuela in the WBC on Monday.

John Andreoli’s WBC door closes on Italy, opens for career growth

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MESA, Ariz. – Cubs outfield prospect John Andreoli had the walkoff hit in an upset victory over Mexico, tied for the World Baseball Classic home run lead (three) through the first round and hit .316 with a 1.192 OPS in four games.

He only wishes Team Italy’s run wasn’t done after Monday’s heartbreaker loss to Venezuela, one of two one-run losses to Venezuela.

“It was definitely something where I felt I grew as a player just playing through that,” said Andreoli, who returned to Cubs camp Wednesday from first-round pool play in Mexico.

“A couple of the atmospheres there you don’t see anywhere in the minor leagues,” he said. “A couple guys on our team had played in the playoffs, and we had a couple guys in the World Series that said it was very similar to that atmosphere – and in some cases a little more intense because you’re only playing one team once instead of a series, so every pitch and out is huge.

“I would have liked to win a couple of those close games,” he added, “but regardless, I really enjoyed the experience. … It was definitely worth the trip and an experience I’ll hold onto forever.”

Cubs manager Joe Maddon has included Andreoli in the mix when talking about candidates for the final one or two bench spots on the opening roster.

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