Andre Rienzo almost never became a baseball player. If everything worked out, he would be playing another sport at the world’s highest level, and could be ready to kick off the 2014 World Cup for his home country, Brazil. The Sao Paulo native played in a soccer academy growing up in Brazil, and picks his home nation to win the FIFA World Cup.
In a clubhouse survey, eight White Sox players expected Brazil to win the tournament, with four others selecting the United States, a notion that goes against what I predicted earlier this week. Rienzo is the only Brazilian Sox player, and only one other international player has a home nation to root for in the tournament, Jose Quintana who hails from Colombia.
Rienzo, while not a soccer star, has played for his nation before, pitching for Brazil in the 2013 World Baseball Classic qualifying, which Brazil didn’t make it out of. Rienzo couldn’t do much for the over-matched Brazilians, started one game and gave up two runs, one unearned in 3 2/3 innings pitched against Japan.
Brazil is currently playing Croatia, and also faces Mexico and Cameroon in Group A play. The United States plays their first match Monday evening against Ghana. Mexico begins play tomorrow, and will face the BRazilians on Tuesday afternoon.