Results tagged ‘ Anthony Rizzo ’

9/30 Theo: Goal in ’15 is to win division

The emphasis in the first three seasons under Theo Epstein has been to restock the Minor League system and build a foundation of impact players. In 2015, Epstein feels the Cubs will take a major step and not just develop players, but be competitive.

“I think we’ve proved we can be very competitive in this division and when you have a chance to compete, you should set your sights high and that means our goal is the [National League] Central title next year,” Epstein said Tuesday.

Here are some highlights from a 40-minute media session at Wrigley Field:

* The Cubs will be looking for impact talent via free agency but Epstein cautioned that any deal has to make sense and they will not “sell out just for 2015.” Among the needs are another starting pitcher, a left-handed reliever, and outfield help. The next 15 months will be key in terms of player acquisitions, he said. That time frame includes this coming offseason, the next Trade Deadline, and next offseason.

* They are aware that some of the young talent still needs time, such as Javier Baez, who batted .169 with 95 strikeouts in 52 games after he was called up Aug. 5. Baez is expected to be the Cubs’ Opening Day second baseman, Epstein said. He’s a perfect example of the theme Epstein projected for 2015.

“We’re being open about the fact that we’re here to compete and our goal is to win the [division] title, but at the same time we’re not going to bail on our young players, we’re not going to abandon our vision,” he said. “We just have to make the tough decisions and strike that balance the right way.”

* Epstein admitted Renteria had some limitations with the roster, such as relievers who were restricted because of past injuries and youngsters without much experience. But the manager did fulfill many of the criteria laid out for him, such as developing a positive attitude, setting a good tone for the players and getting them to play hard.

“He established an environment where our young players could continue to grow and feel support, and where they could learn how to be big leaguers, and where they could learn how to win,” Epstein said.

* Neil Ramirez and Justin Grimm will stay in the bullpen for 2015, and not be considered for the rotation.

* The Cubs have not made as much improvement in terms of on-base percentage as Epstein would like.

“Frankly, it’s one of the areas where we haven’t had a lot of success,” he said.

* Epstein’s feelings on the Cardinals? He says: “How do you balance admiration and contempt? I’m a Cub, so I have to hate the Cardinals, but I also admire the way they run their baseball shop. They’re really consistent, they make good decisions, all the way back to George Kissell. They teach the game the right way, they stay true to the vision of how to play Cardinal baseball. In some respects, and I hate to say this on the record, but we have to do a lot of things that they do to be successful. On the other hand, I think we’re building something that has a chance to go toe to toe with them and surpass them. I think we have a chance to win this division and win it on a consistent basis, and we’re going to need to beat them to win the World Series.”

He feels the NL Central is becoming a powerhouse. When Epstein first joined the Cubs in October 2011, he thought the NL Central would be a little easier than the AL East.

“I was dead wrong,” Epstein said. “If you look forward over the next five years, or so, I think this has a chance to be the most competitive and best division in baseball. When you have the talent to compete you should set your sights high.”

– Carrie Muskat

9/30 The Year in Quotes

CSNChicago.com’s Patrick Mooney compiled a “Year in Cubs Quotes,” which summed up some of the highs and lows of the 2014 season. Here are excerpts:

* “It’s as peaceful as I’ve ever been as a person.” — Rick Renteria, the 53rd manager in franchise history, at the opening of spring training, Feb. 13.

* “You guys are going to crown them the next Babe Ruth.” — first baseman Anthony Rizzo, responding to reporters asking about all the prospects, Feb. 18.

* “Just be myself. Be me. My mind’s clean and ready to play hard.” — shortstop Starlin Castro, promising to return to an All-Star level, Feb. 19.

* “It sucks for the person who parked there. They’re parking too close to the field.” — mega-prospect Javier Baez, after shattering a car window with a batting-practice bomb at Cubs Park, Feb. 21.

* “(Baez) doesn’t care. He’s like: ‘Oh, cool.’ Not cool for whoever’s car it was, I guess.” — eyewitness Logan Watkins, Feb. 21.

* “Losing sucks.” — Theo Epstein, after a reporter asked if winning is “overemphasized” in professional sports, April 22.

* “I was pretty hungry for that one.” — Jeff Samardzija, after allowing one unearned run in nine innings and throwing 126 pitches during a 12-inning loss to the White Sox, May 5.

* “I do believe in second chances. I do believe in redemption. I do believe that Manny has turned his life around for the better in the last couple of years.” — Epstein, stunning the baseball world by signing Manny Ramirez to a minor-league deal as a player/coach for Triple-A Iowa, May 25.

* “I got some goose bumps there. That’s kind of why you play this game, for moments like that.” — Jake Arrieta, after being four outs away from a no-hitter against the Red Sox and getting a standing ovation at Fenway Park, June 30.

* “We shared a beer and a cigarette and sent him on his way. It’s just tough to see your boys leave.” — James Russell’s farewell to Samardzija, July 5.

* “We certainly hope that this is the last year that we’ll be obvious sellers at the trade deadline.” — Epstein, July 5.

* “I got beer. I got chocolate milk. I got hair gel. I got shampoo. I got body wash. And then I got some more beer. It was great. Best shower I’ve ever taken.” — catcher John Baker, after pitching the 16th inning and scoring the game-winning run to beat the Rockies in the longest game in franchise history, July 29-30.

* “I was like: ‘Are you serious?’ And then I realized I was really going to the big leagues. I got really excited. I called my mom, told my brother and everybody started jumping around and crying.” — Javier Baez, before debuting at Coors Field and hitting the game-winning homer against the Rockies, Aug. 5.

* “The best thing to happen to the whole city of Chicago this summer — certainly from a baseball standpoint — was put together by 13-, 12-year-old kids from the South Side. At industry meetings, in lots of front offices around the game, people talk about (it). People ask the question: How can we get young kids playing baseball again, especially in cities, especially in the inner-city? There’s nothing that a bunch of suits in a boardroom can do that would be as powerful as what those 12-year-old kids did to demonstrate how compelling the game of baseball can be, make baseball cool again for young kids.” — Epstein, on the Jackie Robinson West team that won a national title at the Little League World Series, Aug. 27.

* “We’re just waiting for Bryant now.” — Baez, after Jorge Soler hit two homers to beat the Cardinals in St. Louis, Aug. 29.

* “To be the NL Central champs … that’s the message we’re going to send.” — Rizzo’s expectations for next year’s team, Sept. 28.

9/28 Rizzo: We want to win the division

The Cubs closed the 2014 season with a win and lots of momentum, and Anthony Rizzo made it clear what the goal is for next year.

“To be the [National League] Central champs,” Rizzo said after hitting a two-run homer in the Cubs’ season finale, a 5-2 win over the Brewers. “[We want] to win the division, and obviously, that’s the playoffs and we want to go deep.

“It takes a lot of work and we have a very tough division and teams aren’t going anywhere in it, it’s only getting better,” Rizzo said. “That’s our expectation, that’s the message we want to send.”

The Cubs finished fifth for the fifth straight season, but the future looks bright with players like Arismendy Alcantara, Jorge Soler, Javier Baez and Kyle Hendricks in the mix.

“All those guys know we want to step it up, and we need to go into Spring Training prepared to be a better club with the expectations of us improving and making ourselves hopefully a topic of conversation throughout the season,” manager Rick Renteria said.

– Carrie Muskat

9/28 Cubs 5, Brewers 2

Anthony Rizzo hit his 32nd home run, a two-run blast in the first, and scored on Arismendy Alcantara’s tie-breaking two-run double in the sixth to lift the Cubs to a 4-2 victory over the Brewers in the season finale Sunday in front of 33,837 at Miller Park.

Under new manager Rick Renteria, the Cubs finished 73-89, and below .500 for the fifth straight season, but they did top last year’s 66-win total and head into 2015 encouraged by the play of some of the top prospects, including Alcantara and Jorge Soler. It’s the first time the Cubs have won 73 games since a 75-87 season in 2010.

The Brewers, on the other hand, have to be wondering what happened after leading the division for 150 days and not making the playoffs.

Jacob Turner picked up the win, starting in place of Kyle Hendricks, who was scratched after the Cubs decided the rookie right-hander had reached his innings limit. Turner improved to 3-1 in six career games (five starts) against the Brewers, which included a win at Wrigley Field on Sept. 1.

Chris Coghlan walked to lead off the game against Brewers starter Mike Fiers, stole second and one out later, tallied on Rizzo’s 32nd home run. Rizzo is the first Cubs left-handed batter to hit 32 homers in a single season since Rick Monday did so in 1976.

– Carrie Muskat

9/23 Good guy

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Anthony Rizzo stopped by the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago on Tuesday to visit the in-patient and out-patient pediatric oncology floors. He met with some of the patients and their families.

9/18 Rizzo named Branch Rickey winner

Anthony Rizzo has been named the winner of the 2014 Branch Rickey Award. He is the youngest to receive the award. The announcement was made in Denver Thursday.

Rizzo, 25, will be inducted as the 23rd member of the Baseball Humanitarians Hall of Fame on Nov. 14 at the McNichols Civic Center in Denver. Two days later, on Nov. 16 in Parkland, Fla., Rizzo and his foundation will host his third “Walk-Off for Cancer” 5K walk.

Created by the Rotary Club of Denver in 1991, the Branch Rickey Award honors individuals in baseball who contribute unselfishly to their communities and who are strong role models for young people. Each year, MLB teams are asked to nominate one team member for the award.

Rizzo was chosen by a national selection committee comprised of 400 members of the sports media, baseball executives, past award winners and Rotary district governors. Fans also were given a chance to vote online, and more than 30,000 votes were received. Rizzo won the fan voting by an impressive margin.

Rizzo has overcome Hodgkins Lymphoma, which he was diagnosed with while a Minor League with the Red Sox in 2008. His foundation’s goal is to help families affected by cancer. Besides his fund-raising walk in his hometown, Rizzo has hosted two “Cook-offs for Cancer” in Chicago. So far, he’s raised more than $500,000. The first baseman also is a regular visitor to pediatric cancer patients in Chicago and Hollywood, Fla.

Rickey was known to many as “Mr. Baseball” and is credited with breaking the color barrier in the Major Leagues in 1945 when he signed Jackie Robinson.

Previous recipients of this award include Dave Winfield, Kirby Puckett, Ozzie Smith, Paul Molitor, Torii Hnter, Tommy Lasorda, Roland Hemond, and Clayton Kershaw.

– Carrie Muskat

9/17 Cubs lineup

Kyle Hendricks makes the start Wednesday as the Cubs go for a sweep of their three-game series against the Reds. Anthony Rizzo is back, too. Here’s the lineup:

Coghlan LF
Baez SS
Rizzo 1B
Soler RF
Valbuena 3B
Castillo C
Valaika 2B
Kalish CF
Hendricks P

9/16 Extra bases

* Anthony Rizzo did not start Tuesday as part of the Cubs’ plan to ease him back into games while Arismendy Alcantara was sidelined with a sore right wrist injured when he crashed into the outfield wall Monday night. Alcantara’s status was day to day.

Rizzo, who had been sidelined since Aug. 26 because of a low back strain, made his first start in 18 games on Monday night
and hit a walk-off home run in the ninth. The Cubs had considered having Rizzo only play seven innings Monday since it was his first game action in 18 games, but went ahead and had him stay for nine. It worked.

“I would say I plan on giving him every other day [off] and will increase his playing time to two days in a row, maybe three,” Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. “I have to let it play itself out first.”

* Alcantara had an MRI on his right wrist and was wearing a brace on Tuesday. He slammed into the brick wall in right center catching Kristopher Negron’s ball in the eighth inning. The Reds had a runner on and two out, and there was no score in the game.

“Somebody was saying somebody forgot to tell him there’s a brick wall behind the ivy,” Renteria said of Alcantara. “That’s a game-saving play. He gave tremendous effort, [ran a] great line, very smooth, explosive action and got to it and was able to make the catch.”

It was an exceptional play for Alcantara who has primarily played in the infield.

“His immersion into center field was a pretty easy transition, in terms of chasing balls down, reading balls off the bat,” Renteria said. “He’s continued to learn where to throw the ball, how aggressive to be with certain plays. He’s continued to improve. That’s a testament to him because he’s taken on a lot.”

* Edwin Jackson, sidelined with a strained right lat, will make his first start since Aug. 20 on Friday when the Cubs play host to the Dodgers at Wrigley Field. Jackson threw an extended side session as a tune-up. Rookie Eric Jokisch will be available to piggyback because Jackson was not expected to go deep in the game.

– Carrie Muskat

9/16 Cubs lineup

Anthony Rizzo, who came back after an 18-game break because of low back problems, was not in the lineup Tuesday night for the Cubs in Game 2 of their three-game series against the Reds. According to the Cubs, this was a planned off day to ease him back into games. Here’s the lineup:

Coghlan LF
Baez SS
Valbuena 3B
Soler RF
Castillo C
Valaika 1B
Watkins 2B
Szczur CF
Arrieta P

Rizzo and manager Rick Renteria did caution that they would take it easy with the first baseman, who played for the first time since Aug. 26 on Monday. Rizzo delivered a walk-off home run in the ninth in the 1-0 win over the Reds.

9/16 Rizzo is Clemente nominee

Anthony Rizzo was named the Cubs’ nominee for the prestigious Roberto Clemente Award, presented by Chevrolet. Major League Baseball made the announcement Tuesday. The Cubs first baseman is one of the 30 club finalists for the annual award, which recognizes a MLB player who best represents the game of baseball through positive contributions on and off the field, including sportsmanship and community involvement.

Wednesday marks the 13th annual Roberto Clemente Day, which was established by MLB to honor Clemente’s legacy and to officially recognize local club nominees of the Roberto Clemente Award presented by Chevrolet. The 15-time MLB All-Star and Hall of Famer died in a plane crash on New Year’s Eve 1972 while attempting to deliver supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua.

Rizzo started the nonprofit Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation in 2012 to raise money for cancer research and provide support to children and their families battling the disease. As a cancer survivor, Rizzo understands the impact cancer has on the entire family. Through fundraising for research and providing support for pediatric cancer patients and their families, the foundation aims to help give every family a fighting chance against cancer.

Since its inception, the Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation has hosted a Walk-Off For Cancer held in the offseason in his hometown of Parkland, Fla., and the Cook-Off For Cancer in Chicago, which raised close to $140,000 this year. Mark your calendars: the next 5K walk is scheduled for Nov. 16.

Together, these events have raised more than $500,000 for cancer research since 2012. Currently, the organizations selected as beneficiaries of this fundraising include Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation, Family Reach Foundation, Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital and The Lymphoma Program at the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami Health System.

In addition to these fundraising efforts, Rizzo makes monthly visits to Lurie Children’s Hospital. He has built strong relationships with several patients who have come out to games to cheer on their favorite player.

In recognition of his achievements both on and off the field, Rizzo has received many awards and nominations this year, including his first time being selected as an MLB All-Star after winning the 2014 All-Star Final Vote, chosen by fans.

Rizzo will be recognized for his nomination before Wednesday’s game against the Reds at Wrigley Field. He will be presented with a $7,500 grant to the charity of his choice, Cubs Charities, as a result of his nomination for this award.

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