Results tagged ‘ Anthony Rizzo ’

3/15 Cubs split

Anthony Rizzo hit two home runs, driving in three runs, but it wasn’t enough as the Cubs lost, 9-4, on Saturday to the Mets in Las Vegas in split-squad games for both teams. Rizzo did not have a home run prior to Saturday’s game, and is now batting .417.

“It doesn’t matter,” Rizzo said of the lack of homers earlier. “It’s nice to connect with one, and run around the bases, and feel what that feels like again. I’ve just been pleased the last week or so with the progression at the plate and my approach. It’s been a good progression and where I want to be at this time.”

In Surprise, Ariz., Brett Jackson hit a three-run home run and a two-run single in the ninth to lift the Cubs to a 6-5 win over the Royals. Marcos Mateo, recently returned from the Diamondbacks, picked up the win in relief.

* On Sunday, the Cubs will play split squad games, with Chris Rusin getting the start in Las Vegas against the Mets, and Travis Wood facing the Indians at Cubs Park in Mesa. Wood is set for the rotation, and will be slotted second, while Rusin is battling for a spot. In Rusin’s last outing, he held the Giants hitless over three innings. The Cubs-Indians game will be broadcast on Comcast SportsNet Chicago commercial free, and also available on Cubs.com.

– Carrie Muskat

3/9 Cubs 10, Brewers 8

Justin Ruggiano drove in three runs, including two on his second spring homer, Junior Lake smacked a tie-breaking RBI and a sacrifice fly, Brett Jackson had a two-run pinch-hit single, and Anthony Rizzo hit a RBI triple for the Cubs who rallied to beat the Brewers, 10-8, on Sunday. The game drew a Cactus League-record crowd of 14,770. The attendance topped the previous league mark of 14,680 set March 1 at new Cubs Park.

* Right fielder Ryan Sweeney had to leave the game after chasing Jeff Bianchi’s double because of soreness in his right knee. Sweeney was listed as day to day.

* Kyle Hendricks, the Cubs’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2013, gave up two runs on three hits and two walks over three innings in his second Cactus League start.

“I’m much happier with this [start],” Hendricks said. “I’m just disappointed that we go out and score two runs and then I go out and give them both back up. That will all work itself out as I get out there more and am more consistent with my mechanics.”

Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun was greeted by a chorus of boos from the sellout crowd during his two at-bats. Hendricks struck Braun out to end the first, but the Brewers outfielder doubled in the third.

“He got me on the second at-bat, but that wasn’t a bad pitch,” Hendricks said. “His barrel stays through the zone very well. I could’ve thrown a different pitch to him — but it was a good pitch, and he’s a really good hitter. He’s going to get his hits.”

Did Hendricks hear the crowd?

“You could hear those boos,” Hendricks said. “All the Brewers fans were trying to cheer over them.”

* Jeff Samardzija will make his third spring start on Monday when the Cubs travel to Scottsdale to face the Giants. Samardzija will likely pitch at least four innings. In his last outing against the Rockies, he gave up three runs on four hits over three innings. So far, he has not walked a batter, which is good. The right-hander is working on being more efficient with his pitches. The game will be broadcast on Cubs.com.

– Carrie Muskat

3/9 Cubs lineup

The Cubs play host to the Brewers’ split squad on Sunday at Cubs Park in Mesa. Javier Baez is scheduled to start at shortstop and backup pitcher Kyle Hendricks, the Cubs’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2013. Anthony Rizzo, who is 6-for-13 this spring, will be at first. If you can’t be in Mesa, you can listen to a webcast on Cubs.com, and it’s free. Here’s the lineup:

Szczur LF
Valbuena 3B
Rizzo 1B
Ruggiano DH
Sweeney RF
Baez SS
Lake CF
Kottaras C
Barney 2B

Hendricks P

3/8 Rizzo joins forces to fight cancer

Anthony Rizzo is wearing a new T-shirt this spring that he hopes will help cancer patients across the country.

The Cubs first baseman has joined forces with the Cardinals’ Jason Motte and his “Strike Out Cancer” movement. One player from each Major League team will promote the T-shirt — which will be in that team’s colors — and $5 will go to Motte’s foundation and $5 to the other player’s charity of choice. That will definitely benefit Rizzo’s foundation, which has already hosted two walk-a-thons in Florida and a celebrity “Cook-Off for Cancer” in Chicago.

“It’s nice that he reached out,” Rizzo said of Motte. “I saw the Cardinals wearing them last year and I liked it because of the cancer angle.”

Rizzo does have t-shirts promoting his foundation and has worn shirts given to him from cancer patients he has visited in hospitals. Rizzo is a cancer survivor himself, having been diagnosed with limited stage classic Hodgkins lymphoma in 2008.

“It’s really cool that [Motte] is doing this and hopefully one day, my foundation can be as big as that,” Rizzo said. “It helps mine, it just helps the cause. That’s really the nicest part that you can help out — it doesn’t matter if it’s my foundation or someone else’s. It’s just to help the cause.”

The Cubs version of the shirt was expected to be available for sale on http://www.108stitches.com later this month. Some Cubs fans apparently couldn’t wait for the blue shirt and have purchased the red one now on the site.

“I have had Cubs fans tweeting me, ‘Hey, man, I’m a Cubs fan, but my mother just got diagnosed with cancer and I’m showing my support for her,’” Motte told MLB.com.

– Carrie Muskat

3/4 Cubs 6, Athletics 4

* Justin Ruggiano and Anthony Rizzo combined for three runs, Albert Almora delivered a tie-breaking RBI single and Mike Olt smacked a two-run home run to lift the Cubs to a 6-3 victory Tuesday over the Athletics’ split-squad team. Ruggiano hit a RBI double in the first and a two-run homer in the third, driving in Rizzo both times, and Almora delivered a tie-breaking RBI single with one out in the eighth as the Cubs won for the second straight game.

Kyle Hendricks, the Cubs’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year after going 13-4 at Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa, gave up one run on two hits and three walks over two innings in his first Cactus League start. The right-hander walked three batters in four of his 27 starts last season, and posted a 1.058 WHIP for the season.

* Last spring, Mike Olt struggled to bat .194. On Tuesday, he collected his first Cactus League home run in just his third at-bat and it wasn’t a relief as much as affirmation that everything is going well. Olt, hoping to find a spot on the Cubs’ Opening Day roster, belted a two-run, pinch-hit homer in the eighth.

“I’ve been feeling good at the plate the last couple days and as long as I’m feeling comfortable, I think good things will come,” Olt said.

The infielder was dealing with vision problems last year, although it took him while to figure that out. He went 6-for-31 in 19 spring games last year with the Rangers, including two home runs. He was assigned to Triple-A Round Rock, where he continued to struggle, batting .213. Texas included Olt as one of the four players in the deal to get Matt Garza from the Cubs. Tuesday’s home run was another step in Olt’s comeback.

“It’s really not me getting hits,” he said. “It’s about me seeing the ball well and that’s my main goal in Spring Training. Obviously, you want hits and you want to perform but the main goal in Spring Training is to get comfortable and it’s definitely a noticeable difference just the way I feel right now, and that’s what I’m happy about.”

* Cubs reliever James Russell has yet to appear in a game this spring. He said Tuesday it was because of his allergies but manager Rick Renteria said the lefty is going through a “dead arm” phase, which Russell has dealt with in the past. Russell is coming off his second straight season in which he appeared in 70-plus games. Renteria wasn’t worried about the lefty, who threw on the side Tuesday.

* Looking ahead, Jeff Samardzija starts on Wednesday against the Rockies and will be followed by Chris Rusin. Travis Wood will go Thursday, and James McDonald will make his first Cactus League start on Friday against the Angels in one of the Cubs’ split squad games. Edwin Jackson will get his second spring start in Mesa against the Indians. McDonald gave up six runs on three hits against the Angels in his first outing last Friday.

* Samardzija on the addition of Ted Lilly to the Cubs front office: “I wouldn’t have had the success I did my rookie year without Teddy.”

– Carrie Muskat

2/27 Extra bases

* Eric Chavez hit the first home run at Cubs Park, a two-run shot in the fifth, and Paul Goldschmidt added a two-run single in the sixth to lift the Diamondbacks to a 5-2 win Thursday over the Cubs and spoil their Cactus League opener at their new stadium. The game drew a Cactus League record crowd of 14,486, breaking the old mark of 13,721 set last March 23 between the Dodgers and White Sox in Glendale.

This was not only the first game at Cubs Park, but Rick Renteria’s first as a Major League manager.

“It feels just like another game,” the Cubs’ new skipper said. “We’re getting ready for the season and today’s the first day of basically a test to see how everybody’s doing. We’re going to use [Spring Training] to see what aspects of the game we need to improve on and basically see where everybody’s at.”

So no butterflies?

“No,” Renteria said, smiling.

* Blake Parker, coming off a season in which he appeared in a career-high 49 games, was the only Cubs pitcher to retire all three batters he faced in his one inning on Thursday in the Cactus League opener. The right-hander came into camp knowing he’s starting fresh.

“Every year you’ve got something to prove,” Parker said. “If you’re getting paid or not, you want to show them you worked hard in the offseason to be ready to pitch at any time.”

Renteria is sorting out the options for the bullpen. Parker knows that.

“You want to show these guys that you’re ready to play, whether it’s these guys or somebody else watching in the stands,” Parker said. “It’s just imperative to get ready for the season.”

* Emilio Bonifacio did exactly what the Cubs want from a leadoff man in his first at-bat when he tripled in the first. Renteria said he considers Bonifacio to be similar to Chone Figgins, who can play second, third, short and the outfield.

“He’s a guy who puts it on the ground and if he gets it through someplace, he’s got a chance to go like he did there, all the way to third base,” Renteria said of Bonifacio. “Those are some of the things he brings to the table.”

Renteria said Darwin Barney is the starting second baseman but expect to see Bonifacio get some playing time there.

* Kyuji Fujikawa, rehabbing from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow last June, threw 25 pitches off the mound for the second time this spring on Thursday, and is continuing to make progress. The Cubs hope the right-hander can pitch sometime this season.

* Catcher John Baker livened up Thursday’s team meeting by playing a song on his guitar that was a variation on Eddie Vedder’s “(Someday We’ll Go) All the Way.”

“I wrote a song about what it means to be a Cub,” said Baker, who got an assist on the lyrics from Barney, Kyle Hendricks, Eric Jokisch, Brett Jackson and strength coach Tim Buss.

“Ricky likes to have people do things that make it a little more fun,” Baker said of Renteria.

The lyrics were tweaked so that they were from a player’s perspective, and ended with “This year, we’ll go all the way.”

* Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo will host his second “Cook-Off for Cancer” on May 16 in Chicago. The event, which features celebrity chefs, will be held at Revel Downtown.

* Up next: Lefty Chris Rusin, who is competing for a spot in the rotation, faces the Angels and Jered Weaver in Tempe in the Cubs’ first road game this spring. Rusin was 2-6 in 13 starts last season with a 3.93 ERA. James McDonald is scheduled to follow Rusin in his first game action since Sept. 1. McDonald appeared in 16 games last season, six with the Pirates, as he struggled with shoulder problems. Top prospect Javier Baez will start at shortstop for Chicago. The game will be broadcast on WGN Radio and on Cubs.com.

– Carrie Muskat

2/18 Cubs spring schedule

Cubs pitchers and catchers just have conditioning work on Tuesday, the last day before the full squad gets to work at the new spring complex. The first full squad workout will be Wednesday, and will start later as there is a team meeting at 11:30 a.m. Arizona time. New position players to arrive on Tuesday included Luis Valbuena and Jeudy Valdez. Starlin Castro and Junior Lake have yet to arrive.

The players were well aware of the tough winter in Chicago.

“I’m home in Florida, laughing every day,” Anthony Rizzo said. “It’s been miserable there. I felt sorry for everyone there.”

– Carrie Muskat

2/18 Riz on kids: Don’t rush them

Anthony Rizzo knows all about the great expectations people place on young players. He went through that when he was first called up to the Padres in 2011. Now, the Cubs’ top prospects, Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Albert Almora and others, are dealing with the hype. Rizzo will try to ease some of the pressure.

“[The media] is going to crown them the next Babe Ruth,” Rizzo said Tuesday. “People did for me, and it’s part of the game, and they’re going to have to deal with that so-called pressure of coming up. They’re going to have fun, and we’ll make sure we have fun.”

Did all the attention affect the Cubs’ first baseman?

“I put my own expectations for what I do on myself,” Rizzo said. “What other people say doesn’t effect me.”

The Cubs have been adamant that Baez, the No. 1 prospect, will open at Triple-A Iowa. Fans are giddy at seeing the young potential impact players now.

“You say you don’t want to rush them too fast and make sure they can get the right amount of at-bats but they’ve shown they can handle every level,” Rizzo said. “The biggest learning process is up here [in the Major Leagues] — that’s where you learn the most. Adding that third deck of the stadium is huge. You can’t prepare for that.”

Rizzo’s transition wasn’t smooth. He was promoted to the Padres in June 2011, and batted .143 in his first 35 games, and was sent back to Triple-A. Called up again in September that year, he hit .133 in 14 games.

– Carrie Muskat

1/17 Autograph seekers

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If you come to the Cubs Convention, keep an eye out for players. You never know who you’ll see, like these fans who found Anthony Rizzo in the hotel lobby.

– Carrie Muskat

1/16 Caravan stop, E-Jax & trade rumors

Manager Rick Renteria joined Anthony Rizzo and Edwin Jackson on Thursday to help Cubs staff spruce up a Chicago school. The Cubs made a winter caravan stop at Casals School of Excellence, where they painted murals on the walls of the gymnasium and cafeteria, decorated a computer room, built benches and cabinets for reading spaces, and re-designed a room for tutoring. Earlier in the day, the Cubs staff stopped at the 2nd Battalion, 24th Marines to serve lunch to about 250 military service personnel.

The caravan tour is a lead in to the Cubs Convention, which opens Friday at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers. This will be Renteria’s first convention.

“They’ve said it’ll be something I’ve never experienced before in my life and from a few conversations I’ve had with different people, it seems that will be the case,” said Renteria, who will answer fans questions in a Saturday afternoon session. “It is evident that the city of Chicago loves their Cubs and they want the Cubs to have success and we feel the same way.”

* The winter fan fest also is the first chance for some of the Cubs to meet their new manager. Jackson is coming off a season in which he led the Major Leagues in losses with 18. It wasn’t how the right-hander wanted to start the first year of his four-year, $52 million deal with the Cubs. Renteria’s message to Jackson? Learn from what happened and move forward.

“That’s the only way we’ll move the club in the direction we’d like it to go,” Renteria said.

Jackson, who welcomed a new daughter in the offseason, was eager to take Renteria’s advice.

“As an athlete, when you have a season like I had last year, if anything it makes you more eager to start the next season up,” Jackson said. “That edge comes a little quicker and you’re more ready and more excited to go out and perform the way you know you can perform.”

What about Renteria?

“He seems like he’s ready to go,” Jackson said of his new skipper. “He’s excited about being a manager of the team. He definitely sees the potential the team has and he understands what we’re capable of doing.”

Jackson said he had no clue Dale Sveum would be dismissed after the 2013 ended. Maybe change is good?

“I hope so — I’ve changed a lot of teams,” said Jackson, who is playing for his eighth team. “I hope change can be good. Change doesn’t hurt. We have a great team, we have a great manager who is eager to get out and be with the team and help the team learn and teach us different things. We’re ready to go.”

* Renteria is thinking about his lineup but said he has plenty of time before Opening Day, March 31. His plan is to have all the players be able to get on base, get ‘em over, and get ‘em in.

“The reality is if the guys do what they’re suposed to do, it makes it a lot easier for me to set up the lineup,” Renteria said.

* Jeff Samardzija’s name has been mentioned often in trade rumors but Rizzo would like to see the right-hander stay with the Cubs.

“Jeff’s a good friend of mine, so I don’t want to see him get traded,” Rizzo said. “You don’t want that to happen but it’s part of the business.”

– Carrie Muskat

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