Results tagged ‘ Anthony Rizzo ’
C.J. Edwards was nervous Tuesday night. He had more than a week to prepare for his first Cactus League start, and had taken the advice of his father, who told him to pray and meditate. Edwards tried to visualize his approach.
“My dad actually helped me get ready for this game,” Edwards said.
But Edwards’ father was back in Prosperity, S.C., and the pitcher had to rely on Cubs pitching coach Chris Bosio and catcher John Baker, who both told Edwards to just keep doing what he had been doing. The slender right-hander was a combined 8-2 with a 1.86 ERA last season at Class A Hickory and High A Daytona. He joined the Cubs in July after being dealt from the Rangers in the Matt Garza deal. Most of the Cubs front office, including Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer, were in the stands in Peoria on Tuesday night to watch Edwards. He didn’t see them because Edwards says he has great “tunnel vision.” The 22-year-old had enough to think about.
“I went out there the first inning, and nerves were crazy,” Edwards said of his start against the Padres. “I can’t even explain the nerves I had. Overall being out there, I felt like I should be out there.”
He retired the first batter, and Seth Smith singled, but Edwards got Kyle Blanks to hit into a double play and end the inning. The second wasn’t as smooth as Xavier Nady singled to lead off and reached third on an error by Ryan Kalish. Rene Rivera hit a sacrifice fly, and Edwards then walked the next two batters. That prompted a visit from Bosio.
Edwards regrouped and got a ground out, and then struck out Andrew Cashner to end the inning. In the third, Edwards again retired the first batter, then Smith singled and Blanks walked. Bosio again came to the mound along with all the infielders. Edwards caught his breath, then served up a double to Nady and a sacrifice fly before he was lifted.
As Edwards walked off the field, Baker said something to him.
“His exact words were, ‘Hey, you did a hell of a job, man, and you’ve got a bright future ahead. Just stay with it,'” Edwards said, smiling.
A lot of players are so overcome by the moment that they admit they’re shaking the first time on a mound in a big league game.
“I actually wasn’t that nervous on the mound,” he said. “After I came in the first inning, my right knee just started going by itself and I was trying to look around and hold it down, but it didn’t work, so I let it bounce.”
Edwards also got advice from first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who came over to the mound in the second after the pitcher walked two in a row.
“He comes up to me, and he goes, ‘Hey, do you want to play first base?’ I was like, ‘Yeah, let’s switch,'” Edwards said.
But they didn’t. It wasn’t just Baker or Rizzo, it was everyone on the Cubs giving Edwards support. They’ve all been there.
“Overall, the guys were behind me 100 percent and they have faith in me,” he said.
The Cubs just have to figure out a way to add some muscle to his skinny body. He weighed 165 on Tuesday, no change from January when he admitted he’s been eating everything in sight. In fact, he gorged on a large order of French toast at the Breakfast Club in Scottsdale on Tuesday morning. He couldn’t finish the eggs and sausage but did eat all the bread.
He could relax once his outing was over.
“Like I tell everybody, I enjoyed it,” Edwards said. “I feel I can be out there any time to help the club when the time comes. The guys that we have up are already doing great. We’ll have our ups and downs but we’ll go out there each and every day 110 percent. When that day comes and I get the call, I feel I’ll be ready to come up there.”
Hopefully, Tuesday’s start will make it easier when he does get promoted.
“Now, I feel my first game there [at Wrigley Field], I won’t be as nervous, but then again, it’ll be Chicago, and there will be over 100 thousand fans there,” he said, over-estimating the ballpark’s attendance by about 60,000. “It’s a little different here. It was wonderful. The outcome wasn’t good but overall just being around those guys was fantastic.”
Edwards isn’t sure where he’ll open the 2014 season, although the Cubs have said it could be Double-A Tennessee. He can only hope he’s matched up with his roommates, like Duane Underwood, who made the drive to Peoria to cheer on the right-hander. There were more people in the stands than in Edwards’ hometown.
“I believe there was,” he said.
– Carrie Muskat
One of the perks of the Cubs’ new complex in Mesa is that there’s room for a Ping-Pong table, and there have been some competitive matches. One of the top players so far in camp is Darwin Barney, who has beaten Jake Arrieta four times and won two out of three best-of-five series against Anthony Rizzo.
“Riz and I both use it as a warm up for our eyes,” Barney said. “It’s very valuable for hand-eye coordination.”
It gets the competitive juices going, too.
– Carrie Muskat
Roger Bernadina hit a three-run home run and a RBI single and Brandon Phillips added a solo homer in the ninth Saturday to lift the Reds to an 8-3 victory over the Cubs in front of a sellout crowd of 15,241, two shy of the Cactus League record. It was the third crowd over 15,000 at new Cubs Park, which opened this year. The Cubs set the Cactus League high 15,243, on Thursday against the Mariners, and have three home games remaining this spring.
Chicago’s Anthony Rizzo had three hits, including a RBI double in the third and a RBI single in the fifth.
Edwin Jackson, who will follow Jeff Samardzija in Chicago’s rotation when the season opens, gave up four runs on eight hits over five innings while striking out seven. Kristopher Negron singled and Brandon Phillips walked with one out in the Reds first, and one out later, they scored on Roger Bernadina’s third home run. Bernadina now has hit safely in 12 of his 18 games.
“It’s just a matter of location,” Jackson said. “Overall, you continue to battle to keep the team in the game. They definitely made me work today, which was good. I needed to get some work in. If you’re going to have a shaky start, I guess you’d rather have it in spring.”
Jackson found out Saturday where he would be slotted in the order. It didn’t matter, the right-hander said.
“One, two, three, four, five — we all have to have the demeanor that we’re the ace that day,” Jackson said. “When you have the ball, you have to be the best pitcher on the field. You can’t worry about where you are in the rotation. As long as you know you’re getting the ball every five days, you’re giving your team a chance to win, that’s the bigger picture.”
* Jason Hammel will make his third Cactus League start on Sunday when the Cubs travel to Phoenix to play the Athletics. The right-hander has stayed on track with a Minor League start in his last outing, throwing 75 pitches. Mike Olt is scheduled to make his second straight start at third base, the first time he will do so. Olt has been slowed this spring with soreness in his right shoulder. The game will be broadcast on WGN TV and on Cubs.com.
– Carrie Muskat
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
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
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:
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
* 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
* 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
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