Results tagged ‘ Anthony Rizzo ’

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

11/22 RIP, Michael Weiner

Friday was a sad day for Major League players trying to cope with the passing of union executive director Michael Weiner. Cubs pitcher Carlos Villanueva, an active member of the MLB Players Association, called it a “difficult day.”

“It was a very difficult day, not only for me, but for all of us who had the pleasure of spending time with Michael,” Villanueva said Friday. “All I can say about Michael is what a wonderful leader he was to us, how he genuinely cared about us, and even when he was battling his illness, how he was there almost everyday at the office making sure that we were OK.”

Weiner lost his 15-month battle with brain cancer on Thursday. He was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor in August 2012, and continued to serve the players and provide leadership and counsel to the MLBPA staff. Weiner was 51.

“He was not only our leader but he was family, because only someone who is family could dedicate their life to us the way he did,” Villanueva said.

The Cubs pitcher is the only non-American born player on the MLBPA board, and involved with the Latin players.

“From a Latin player point of view, he fought for us, he made sure that we got fair treatment above all, even when it seemed that we would get the short end of the stick,” Villanueva said from his home in the Dominican Republic. “Michael always had his calm demeanor, worked his magic, and made us feel that we mattered.

“He showed me personally, to not only care about the Latin players, but to care and love all of our members equally, that it is never about the individual, it’s about what we do now, and how that will affect in a positive way the well being of our future members,” Villanueva said. “He will stay with us forever, and we will never have anybody like him.”

Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo also acknowledged Weiner’s passing on Twitter, saying: “It’s sad to see such a good man’s life be taken by cancer! Thank you for everything you have done! Rest in peace Michael Weiner!”

– Carrie Muskat

11/12 Good causes

* The Wood Family Foundation has named Lawndale Elementary Community Academy as the school to be celebrated in its Warm Wishes program. On Dec. 13, the WFF will acknowledge the academy’s success and provide holiday treats to students. Each student will receive a gift bag filled with a new winter coat, hats, gloves and scarves plus one to two gifts. You can help by donating to the Wood Family Foundation. Go to mlb.mlb.com/players/woodfamilyfoundation for more information.

* On Dec. 15, Anthony Rizzo will host his second “Walk Off for Cancer,” a 5-kilometer walk at Pine Trails park in Parkland, Fla. Besides the walk, there will be entertainment and refreshments, raffle prizes and guest appearances. This is a family friendly event. Registration is limited to 1,000 people, and costs $30 per person. If you can’t go, you can still donate to the Rizzo Family Foundation. Go to http://www.rizzo44.com for more information. This event marks five years that Rizzo has been cancer free.

– Carrie Muskat

10/31 Rizzo vs. Goldschmidt

I presented numbers comparing Darwin Barney from 2012 and this past season. Per request, here’s Anthony Rizzo vs. 2013 Gold Glove winner Paul Goldschmidt:

Rizzo
Fielding percentage: .997 (3rd in NL)
Total putouts: 1,287 (3rd in NL)
Assists: 149 (2nd in NL)
Errors: 5
Double plays: 114 (5th in NL)
Range factor: 9.03 (5th in NL)
UZR: 8.3
WAR: 1.6

Goldschmidt
Fielding percentage: .997 (2nd in NL)
Total putouts: 1,494 (1st)
Assists: 99 (4th)
Errors: 5
Double plays: 118 (2nd)
Range factor: 10.02 (1st)
UZR: 5.4
WAR: 6.4

* Note on UZR Rating: A plus 15 is Gold Glove caliber; a plus 10 is great; a plus five is above average.

* Note on WAR: Wins Above Replacement is an attempt to summarize a player’s total contribution to the team in one stat. According to Fangraphs, it looks at a player and asks, if this guy was injured, and he had to be replaced with a Minor Leaguer or someone from the bench, how much value would the team be losing? An MVP gets a six-plus WAR; a solid starter 2-3 WAR. A scrub, 0-1.

You can talk amongst yourselves about this.

– Carrie Muskat

10/29 Gold Glove results

There was no repeat for the Cubs’ Darwin Barney. Reds’ second baseman Brandon Phillips reclaimed the Rawlings Gold Glove award in the National League, which Barney won in 2012. Winners of the top defensive award were announced Tuesday.

Barney, 27, and Phillips were finalists for the NL second base honors along with the Dodgers’ Mark Ellis. Barney led the NL in fielding percentage this season, but was seventh in zone rating, which is determined by how many plays a fielder makes and how many were hit into his zone. Phillips, who won the award in 2008, ’10 and ’11, was second in zone rating at .833 behind the Padres’ Jedd Gyorko (.851).

This year, managers and coaches who received the Gold Glove ballots also had an additional packet of statistics as Rawlings collaborated with the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) to formally incorporate sabermetrics as a component of the award.

Arizona’s Paul Goldschmidt won the NL Gold Glove at first base over the Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo, who was a finalist for the first time in his career. The Dodgers’ Adrian Gonzalez, who was vying for his third Gold Glove, and first since 2009, also was a finalist. Rizzo, 24, and Goldschmidt were tied for second in the NL in fielding percentage behind the Rockies’ Todd Helton, and the Cubs’ first baseman led the NL in zone rating (.902).

– Carrie Muskat

10/28 Extra bases

* Darwin Barney and Anthony Rizzo will find out whether they have won Gold Gloves on Tuesday. ESPN2 will unveil the winners on a special “Baseball Tonight” show, starting at 7 p.m. CT. Both of the Cubs infielders are finalists for the top defensive award. Barney is vying for his second, and competing against the Reds’ Brandon Phillips and the Dodgers’ Mark Ellis.

* Tickets are still available for the 2014 Cubs Convention, to be held Jan. 17-19 at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers. Go to Cubs.com for more information.

* Rizzo will host his second “Walk Off for Cancer” on Dec. 15 at Pine Trails Park in Parkland, Fla. Rizzo will celebrate five years of being cancer free. Registration is limited to 1,000 people, and costs $30 per person. Last year’s inaugural event raised more than $100,000. For more information, go to http://www.Rizzo44.com.

* Cubs Minor League hitting coordinator Anthony Iapoce will hold a baseball clinic for boys and girls ages 9-13 on Dec. 14 from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. ET, at Queens College, New York. Kids will get two hours of hitting, plus lessons on fielding, throwing and base running. For more information, contact iapocebaseball@gmail.com.

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