Results tagged ‘ Anthony Rizzo ’

9/7 Cubs notebook

* Scott Baker will make his first Major League start since Aug. 8, 2011, on Sunday when he takes the mound in the Cubs’ series finale against the Brewers.

“He’s built up pretty good,” Dale Sveum said of the right-hander, who has been sidelined since undergoing Tommy John surgery on his right elbow in April 2012. “I’m not going to put a limit on [Sunday's game]. He’s obviously not going to go over 100 pitches. We’ll see how things go. We have plenty of guys in the bullpen. It’s not a necessity to do anything but evaluate and let him pitch.”

* Ryan Sweeney will get a good look in September so the Cubs can gauge what to do next season with the outfielder.

“He’s pretty savvy, he knows what’s going on,” Sveum said. “He’s a quality left-handed bat, has the ability to hit home runs. You give him 500, 700 plate appearances that he’s never gotten before, I think you could project that to be a pretty good year.”

Sweeney missed time after injuring his ribs when he crashed into the outfield wall in Seattle.

“He’s got an ability in center field to make things look easy,” Sveum said. “You don’t want to put anybody in a Jim Edmonds category but he makes it look easy like Jim Edmonds did without a great deal of speed.”

* Junior Lake leads all Major League rookies in hits since the All-Star break, but on Saturday, the Cubs outfielder got a day off. Lake, who hit his first grand slam on Friday, was not in the Cubs’ starting lineup against the Brewers on Saturday. It’s part of Sveum’s effort to give the outfielders on the roster enough playing time.

In 45 games with the Cubs, Lake has 55 hits, including five home runs. Sveum said he could project the outfielder finishing with at least 15 home runs in a full season.

“He’s got tremendous raw ability,” Sveum said. “We’ve witnessed that since the All-Star break. The power is there. You’re talking about doing things, and people still have to get the 700 plate appearances to project anything. He has the power and ability to obviously hit 15 home runs [in a single season].”

* Sveum was asked how he would judge Anthony Rizzo’s season.

“In his second year, many people in this game would take 85 to 90 [RBIs] and 25 home runs,” Sveum said. “We’re down on the average and all that, but the bottom line is, it’s been a good learning year for him and understanding about playing every day and the pitching and all that. It’s still a pretty good year for a kid who had to play every single day for the first time in his career.”

Rizzo entered Saturday’s game batting .232 with 21 home runs and 73 RBIs.

– Carrie Muskat

9/1 Extra bases

* On Sunday, the Cubs look to win two-straight home games for the first time since taking three in a row, July 6-9 vs. the Pirates and Angels.

* Starlin Castro has recorded multi-hit efforts in three of his last four games, and has four extra-base hits in his last two games (three doubles, one home run) after recording just two extra-base hits in his first 26 August contests.

* The Cubs have averaged 5.3 runs in their last six home games (32 runs total) after scoring 12 runs in their previous eight home games, Aug. 3-18, including five shutout losses.

* Anthony Rizzo (21 homers) and Nate Schierholtz (20) form one of three left-handed hitting duos with 20 home runs apiece this season, joining the Reds’ Jay Bruce (26) and Joey Votto (20), and the Mariners’ Raul Ibanez (25) and Kyle Seager (21).

The Cubs previously had two left-handed 20-home run hitters in a season 40 years ago when Rick Monday (26) and Billy Williams (20) did so in 1973. Prior to that, it hadn’t happened since 1962 when Williams and George Altman had 22 home runs apiece.

8/30 Phillies 6, Cubs 5

It was a perfect homecoming for Ryne Sandberg at Wrigley Field, which has been anything but friendly to the Cubs this season. Back at the ballpark he called home for 15 seasons, Sandberg, now the Phillies interim manager, celebrated a 6-5 win over the Cubs on Friday. Michael Young had four hits, including a tiebreaking RBI single with two outs in the ninth, and Kevin Frandsen hit a game-tying home run in the seventh to lift the Phillies.

Last Friday in San Diego, the Cubs blew a six-run first inning lead in an 8-6 loss to the Padres. This time, they couldn’t hold a 5-0 lead after five innings. Chicago now is 25-42 at Wrigley, and are one of five teams with more wins on the road than at home.

“Twice in one week, to see this kind of game, and this one at home, with your big horse [Jeff Samardzija] on the mound, cruising along and all of a sudden he starts misfiring and gets the ball up [it's tough],” Dale Sveum said. “We can’t get a big hit to walk them off or get the chance. Michael Young hits the outfield grass [with his game-winning single] — we’re having trouble doing that at home.”

Sandberg, the Hall of Fame second baseman, received a nice ovation from the fans in his return to Wrigley. He took time to sign autographs, meet the media and say hello to old friends at the ballpark he called home from 1982-94 and again from 1996-97.

“It was good,” Sandberg said of the reception. “I heard it. A little tip of the hat to the crowd for that. And once I got up there with the umpires, we chatted a little bit. I asked them if they wanted me to take them around the ground rules.”

Sandberg not only could offer advice on how to deal with the hitter-friendly wind or the tough infield at Wrigley, but may have had a few suggestions about dealing with Samardzija, who was once on his Triple-A Iowa roster. The right-hander was shut down last Sept. 8 in his first season as a starter because the Cubs wanted to watch his innings. This year, the kid gloves are off. Friday was Samardzija’s career-high 28th start, and it included his 500th career strikeout, which he notched when he struck out Young in the third.

“Any time you get the early runs, you can be aggressive and attack the zone,” Samardzija said. “It allowed me to cruise through the middle innings. I obviously had the hiccup in the sixth.”

Anthony Rizzo and Nate Schierholtz each hit solo home runs. The Cubs added on in the fourth on Starlin Castro’s two-run double. Brian Bogusevic hit a RBi single in the fifth. But it wasn’t enough.

Pinch-hitter Kevin Frandsen tripled to open the Phillies’ sixth and scored on Young’s second single of the game. Jimmy Rollins then singled, and he and Young scored on Chase Utley’s triple to pull within 5-3. Utley then tallied on Domonic Brown’s groundout.

Frandsen stayed in the game, and delivered a solo homer with two outs in the seventh to tie the game at 5.

The Cubs had runners at first and second and one out in the seventh but Zach Miner struck out Murphy. Bogusevic singled to right, and Dioner Navarro, who was on second, tried to score, but was thrown out at home.

“You think about pinch-running there, but at home, in the seventh inning, [Navarro] is coming up again, and unless it was to win a game, it’s tough to [lift him],” Sveum said.

“I knew they were going to send me, there were two outs, tie game,” Navarro said. “They told me he made a perfect throw to the plate. We couldn’t catch a break today.”

– Carrie Muskat

8/27 No Rizzo vs. Kershaw

Anthony Rizzo is looking much better at the plate, which is why Dale Sveum didn’t want the first baseman to get out of whack against Clayton Kershaw.

“It’s just a good day,” Sveum said about giving Rizzo a breather Tuesday. “He’s swinging the bat much better now. I want to give him a few days off here and there, and this was a good one to give him off.”

Kershaw is holding left-handed hitters to a .148 batting average.

“He’s the best in the game,” Rizzo said of the Dodgers lefty. “It’d be kind of fun to face him. It’s a good day to take off. I get the day off today, play [Wednesday] and a day off the next day, so it’s a little blow.”

Right-handers aren’t having much luck against Kershaw either. They’re batting .191 this season.

“He’s the best in the game, he’s the best left-hander pitching in the game,” Rizzo said. “It’s someone I’d like to face. I’ve faced him before. I’ll just watch how he pitches, and one day I’m going to be facing him and I’ll be ready for it.”

– Carrie Muskat

8/27 Cubs lineup

If the Cubs thought Zack Greinke was tough, on Tuesday, it’ll be even tougher as they face lefty Clayton Kershaw. No Anthony Rizzo on Tuesday. The game does mark the first time in 50 seasons that a Cubs left-handed All-Star pitcher squares off against a fellow left-handed All-Star pitcher from that same season, and the first time ever after the All-Star Game took place. In 1964, Cubs lefty Dick Ellsworth twice faced fellow southpaw All-Stars: on May 14, Ellsworth faced off against the Dodgers’ Sandy Koufax and endured a 6-4, 10-inning setback at Wrigley Field. On June 23, Ellsworth tossed a complete-game, 2-0 shutout against Philadelphia’s Chris Short, also at Wrigley Field.

Here’s the lineup:

Castro SS
Barney 2B
Navarro C
Murphy 3B
Lake CF
Ransom 1B
McDonald LF
Gillespie RF
T. Wood P

8/26 Dodgers 6, Cubs 2

The Cubs couldn’t skip Zack Greinke on Monday. Greinke hit a RBI single in the fourth and held the Cubs to five hits over 8 2/3 innings, and Hanley Ramirez and Yasiel Puig each hit solo home runs to lead the Dodgers to a 6-2 victory for their 47th win in the last 59 games. The Cubs have now lost eight straight to the Dodgers. How good is Greinke? He struck out nine, and improved to 5-0 in five starts this month.

Jake Arrieta took the loss in his fourth start for the Cubs. The right-hander had faced the Dodgers April 21 in Baltimore while with the Orioles, giving up five runs on two hits and five walks over four innings. That was a different Dodger lineup, without Puig, who joined the team in June, or Ramirez, who was injured. Puig wasn’t the problem Monday for Arrieta; walks were. With one out in the Dodgers’ fourth, A.J. Ellis walked on four pitches, and one out later, Nick Punto walked on five to set up Greinke’s RBI single. Carl Crawford followed with a ground-rule double that bounced over the left field fence to open a 2-0 lead.

Arrieta walked Mark Ellis to open the sixth and he scored on Punto’s double. Arrieta was pulled, and Punto moved up on Greinke’s sacrifice against Carlos Villanueva and scored on Crawford’s sacrifice fly.

Ramirez connected on his 14th homer with one out in the seventh against Villanueva, and Puig added his 13th with two outs in the eighth off Michael Bowden.

Rizzo doubled with two outs in the ninth, Greinke hit Nate Schierholtz with a pitch, and Brian Bogusevic then drove both in with a double to chase the Dodgers starter.

– Carrie Muskat

8/26 Rizzo back in No. 3 spot

Anthony Rizzo was back where he feels he belongs in the lineup, batting third for the Cubs, and hopes he is never inserted into the No. 2 spot again. Rizzo batted second for five games for the Cubs, and was 7-for-24, hitting two home runs in his first game there last Wednesday against the Nationals. Did it make a difference?

“No, it didn’t,” Rizzo said Monday. “It really didn’t, in my opinion. I was very uncomfortable there in the two-hole but it was what it was and hopefully, I never go back.”

What made it uncomfortable?

“It’s more an ego thing,” he said. “I’ve never hit second in my life. If you’re the second hitter, you’re someone who gets guys over and bunts and slaps and what not. I think our lineup doesn’t call for me hitting second. You see the Cardinals and [Carlos] Beltran hitting second but that’s because he has no where else to hit. I was there and I tried to make the best of it. Dale [Sveum] says it best, it’s just a spot in the lineup. I just didn’t like it much.”

When Sveum, the Cubs manager, made the switch, he said the change was not going to be long-term.

“Who knows if any of that stuff works,” Sveum said. “Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t.”

Rizzo was batting .177 with runners in scoring position, and part of the reason the move was made was to give him more at-bats without having to try to think about driving men in.

In December 2010, the Red Sox dealt Rizzo to the Padres as part of the Adrian Gonzalez deal. Rizzo was asked if he ever talked to Gonzalez about dealing with the ups and downs of the game.

“You can’t expect everyone to be Superman every day,” Rizzo said. “[Gonzalez] had a good year last year, just not an Adrian Gonzalez year. … You look at everyone’s career and they’ve had monster years and a down year.”

Does Rizzo feel he has to be Superman?

“I expect myself to be,” he said. “When the time is there, I’ll be where I need to be.”

– Carrie Muskat

8/25 Rizzo stays in No. 2 spot

As of now, Anthony Rizzo will stay in the No. 2 spot in the Cubs’ batting order. Manager Dale Sveum doesn’t see any reason to change.

“We’ve scored six, four, six and three [runs] — that’s a plethora for us,” Sveum said of the Cubs’ offense since the switch.

Is there really a correlation?

“No, but I like to think there is,” Sveum said. “It’s not where you want things to be, obviously.”

That’s because the Cubs project Rizzo as their No. 3 batter, which is where he has hit for 100 games this season. In four games at the No. 2 spot, he’s 5-for-18 with four RBIs, and hit two home runs the first day he was inserted there.

“He had a big day [Wednesday], and the line drive two nights ago in the gap and I think the at-bats and the aggressiveness is better and the pitch selection,” Sveum said of Rizzo’s approach. “Where you hit in the lineup is irrelevant for the most part. Sometimes it does give you a little relaxation where you don’t have to worry about things. Everybody’s different.”

Part of the reason for the switch was because Rizzo has scuffled with runners in scoring position. He was batting .178 this season with runners in scoring position with 39 RBIs.

– Carrie Muskat

8/16 Rizzo stops by children’s hospital

IMG_6785

Anthony Rizzo stopped by the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago to visit with patients on the oncology floor this week.

8/13 Rizzo Cook-Off for Cancer

The Anthony Rizzo Cook-Off for Cancer event on Wednesday is sold out, but you can still donate money to the first baseman’s foundation at http://www.rizzo44.com. Wednesday’s event will feature upscale versions of ballpark food prepared by Chicago chefs and served by Cubs players. Guests will vote for their favorite dishes by tipping their Cubs server. All proceeds benefit pediatric cancer research, care and support.

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