Rizzo buzz keeps getting louder
Scott Maine, right, looks away as Arizona Diamondbacks' Paul Goldschmidt rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run during the sixth inning Saturday in Phoenix. The Cubs fell to the Diamondbacks 10-5.
The Cubs have yet to commit to a call-up date for much-anticipated prospect Anthony Rizzo, but the preparations for his arrival continued Saturday night in Arizona.
Cubs manager Dale Sveum returned to the lineup he used in the team's first two games against the White Sox last week, moving Bryan LaHair to right field and David DeJesus to center field to make room for Rizzo at first base.
By keeping him in the minor leagues until Saturday, the Cubs kept Rizzo under team control until 2018.
The lineup shake-up didn't work as well Saturday night as it did in the cross-town series, as the Cubs fell 10-5 to the Diamondbacks.
Starting pitcher Paul Maholm lasted only 3 innings as he unraveled in a 6-run fourth inning. During the rally, LaHair was slow to get to a ball deep in right field that turned into a triple for Paul Goldschmidt
A number of strong defensive plays saved runs for the Cubs in the early going, including a diving catch by Alfonso Soriano and a diving stop by Starlin Castro. Adrian Cardenas, who played second base, ran into shallow right field to catch a flyball that LaHair was unable to reach.
The Cubs' offense improved over its weak showing Friday night, but a lack of clutch hitting stranded eight runners on base through the first five innings. DeJesus and Castro highlighted the offense with 3 hits each.
Most of the pregame chatter reflected the hype over Rizzo and speculation over when he might join the team.
Sveum said Friday that Rizzo he would not be called up this weekend, and many believe he will arrive sometime during the Cubs' next series, at home against the New York Mets. Sveum said he hasn't yet decided where he will put Rizzo in the lineup.
Sveum said he can't remember being around a player with so much hype before his call-up, but he said Cubs fans shouldn't expect too much too soon.
"The 30 days or so in spring training, he seemed to be a guy very ahead of the game, maturity-wise," Sveum told reporters Saturday. "He has all those leadership skills. We'll all have to be a little bit patient and understand the game is a lot different here than it is in Triple-A."
Rizzo is hitting .355 this year with 23 home runs, but he batted .141 in 49 games with the San Diego Padres last season. Despite his struggles at the major-league level, Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney said he thinks Rizzo will come ready to play.
"If it was his first time coming to the big leagues, that's a little bit different," Barney told ESPN Chicago on Saturday. "That usually comes out of nowhere. He knows he has a job to do."
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