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Article updated: 1/13/2012 9:29 PM

Cubs' Anthony Rizzo aims to prove he belongs

By Bruce Miles

One newcomer of intrigue at this weekend's Cubs convention is first baseman Anthony Rizzo.

The Cubs obtained the left-handed hitting slugger from the San Diego Padres in a trade for pitcher Andrew Cashner. Rizzo, 22, hit .331 with 26 homers last year at Class AAA Tucson. He got a taste of big-league action but struggled.

However, he expressed hope he could make the big club out of spring training.

"No one wants to be in the minor leagues," Rizzo said Friday. "Walking around this town, I want to be here for a long time. Of course, I'm going to go in and try to prove that."

Cubs president Theo Epstein has urged caution, saying it's likely Rizzo would open at Class AAA Iowa for more seasoning with Bryan LaHair getting the big-league job at first base.

"Never rule anything out," Epstein said. "This game is too uncertain at times to have any absolutes. But I will say that you have to take any type of performance in spring training with a grain of salt, especially in Arizona with hitters. We've been fooled before."

Sori serious:

Left fielder Alfonso Soriano smiled through the boos he received at the opening ceremonies of the Cubs convention. But he turned serious when it came to the sexual-assault accusation leveled at young shortstop Starlin Castro.

Soriano allowed Castro to live with him during Castro's rookie season in 2010.

"Sometimes, when you're famous and young, you don't know who wants to do good for you and who wants to do bad for you," Soriano said. "What happened with him, he didn't do that because I know him. But he's young, and he's got the talent. Sometimes, people want to take advantage of that."

Soriano, who like Castro lives in the Dominican Republic, said he has been speaking with Castro.

"I think he's upset because this is the second year in Chicago, and when something happens like that, he's not happy with it," Soriano said. "I think he's very disappointed. I know he's not doing anything wrong. Sometimes, people want to make news."

He's on third:

Third baseman Ian Stewart, acquired in a trade with the Rockies, said he has taken steps to improve on an injury-plagued season from a year ago, when he hit no homers and batted .156.

"I lost confidence, and it was hard mentally for me," he said. "It was one of the hardest things I had ever gone through in baseball. I've already gotten with Rudy (hitting coach Jaramillo) a few times this off-season, and I really feel like I'm in a good place with him, and I'm really looking forward to getting going."

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