Nick Punto on representing Italy in the WBC.

Dodgers utilityman Nick Punto was born in San Diego, raised in Orange County, graduated from Trabuco Hills High School in Mission Viejo. But he’s playing for Italy in the World Baseball Classic in March.

Why Italy?

“Because of my heritage, grandfather and grandmother were huge influences on me,” he said Saturday at the Dodgers’ FanFest. “Very passionate Italians. I think I enjoyed doing it for them. They’re not here, but then once I got there it became for me.”

“I really enjoyed meeting everybody on Team Italy,” he continued. “The players were unbelievable. The president of the federation is a good guy. I’ve grown to really embrace that.”

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About J.P. Hoornstra

J.P. Hoornstra covers the Dodgers, Angels and Major League Baseball for the Orange County Register, Los Angeles Daily News, Long Beach Press-Telegram, Torrance Daily Breeze, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Pasadena Star-News, San Bernardino Sun, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Whittier Daily News and Redlands Daily Facts. Before taking the beat in 2012, J.P. covered the NHL for four years. UCLA gave him a degree once upon a time; when he graduated on schedule, he missed getting Arnold Schwarzenegger's autograph on his diploma by five months.