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Team Italy slugger Robel Garcia just a double shy of hitting for cycle in first MLB start for Chicago Cubs

On America's Independence Day, Azzurri slugger Robel Garcia displayed his own fireworks show during his first MLB career start at Pittsburgh's PNC Park. In his second at-bat against Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Jordan Lyles on July 4, 2019, Chicago Cubs second baseman Robel Garcia tripled to deep center field. After hitting a line-drive single in his next at-bat off Pittsburgh Pirates reliever Clay Holmes, Robel Garcia got a second chance to face the Bucs right-hander and made him pay with a solo home run blast over the center field wall. Just a double shy of hitting for the cycle, Robel Garcia went 3-for-5 and made a great first impression on Cubbie fans worldwide. Batting sixth in manager Joe Maddon's starting lineup, infielder Robel Garcia followed Cubs cleanup hitter and former Team Italy slugger Anthony Rizzo (2013 World Baseball Classic) and catcher Wilson Contreras.

Both a fan favorite in his native Dominican Republic and Italy, Robel Garcia now finds himself in the midst of a hotly-contested playoff race in the National League Central Division with the Chicago Cubs and the Milwaukee Brewers tied for first place. The 26-year-old Italian Dominican switch-hitter was signed by the Cubs last year after he was seen raking at the plate while playing for Team Italy in a series of Arizona Instructional League games at Mesa's Fitch Park in early October. “He’s completely exceeding everybody’s expectations,” said Chicago Cubs director of international scouting Alex Suarez. “Obviously, it’s a surprise to the organization that he’s been able to make the adjustment as quickly as he has.”

Prior to being called up to the Big Leagues on July 3, Robel Garcia made 291 plate appearances between Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa, where he posted a combined .285 batting average with 21 home runs, 14 doubles and one triple. Having played all four infield positions and been named the Cubs Minor League Player of the Month recently, the versatile Robel Garcia is a viable source of power in skipper Joe Maddon's star-studded lineup and is destined for plenty of action in MLB. Forza #Italia! #LetsMakeItHappen

by Roberto Angotti

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