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Bianchi, Gomez must watch Classic from afar

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GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Brewers infielder Jeff Bianchi spent Saturday morning in the athletic training room at Maryvale Baseball Park, getting treatment for a left groin strain. He would have rather been with Team Italy, which was 2-0 entering Sunday's matchup against the United States and has been the surprise of the World Baseball Classic so far.

Outfielder Carlos Gomez passed through the clubhouse a few minutes later and yelled support at a clubhouse television as his Dominican Republic countrymen prepared to play Spain. Gomez withdrew from the tournament because he's a free-agent-to-be and preferred to train with the Brewers.

"I can't watch any game all the way through," Gomez said. "It's anxious for me. Like, when they get men on base, I'm walking around at home, nervous. I want to be there."

So does Bianchi. He was forced to withdraw from the tournament last week after tweaking his groin, and he has been exchanging text messages with Italy manger Marco Mazzieri.

"It's bittersweet, you know?" Bianchi said. "I'm really happy and excited to see them 2-0. A part of me obviously wants to be there, so it's exciting to watch them play well and win. But at the same time, I want to be there competing with them."

Bianchi's hotel does not carry MLB Network, so he has been following Italy's games via either the clubhouse televisions at Maryvale Baseball Park or online at MLB.com.

He and his wife, Nicole, were hoping to watch Saturday night's matchup with the U.S. over dinner.

Bianchi reported steady improvement with his injury but said he was still a few days away from being able to play. Even if Italy advances to the second round, Classic rules dictate he is ineligible to play in the tournament.

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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