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updated: 6/26/2012 3:25 PM

As expectations go, Rizzo in a class by himself

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  • Cubs prospect Anthony Rizzo hit 23 home runs for the Iowa Cubs, and he'll get a chance to connect with Chicago Cubs fans with his debut Tuesday at Wrigley Field. Here he connected for a single against Albuquerque in June 15 game at Principal Park in Des Moines.

      Cubs prospect Anthony Rizzo hit 23 home runs for the Iowa Cubs, and he'll get a chance to connect with Chicago Cubs fans with his debut Tuesday at Wrigley Field. Here he connected for a single against Albuquerque in June 15 game at Principal Park in Des Moines.
    Photo courtesy of The Des Moines Register/Bill Nei

  • After polishing his hitting stroke for the Iowa Cubs, first baseman Anthony Rizzo will bring his bat to Wrigley Field for a game Tuesday. Rizzo was called up by the Cubs on Monday.

      After polishing his hitting stroke for the Iowa Cubs, first baseman Anthony Rizzo will bring his bat to Wrigley Field for a game Tuesday. Rizzo was called up by the Cubs on Monday.
    Photo courtesy of The Des Moines Register/Christop

  • Iowa Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo is expected to get his first start with the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday.

      Iowa Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo is expected to get his first start with the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday.
    Photo courtesy of The Des Moines Register/Justin H

 
 

A warm breeze circulates through Wrigley Field, a sweet fragrance emanates from the ivy, a comforting smile hovers above the center field scoreboard.

All indications are that Tuesday is the night Anthony Rizzo will make his debut in a Cubs' uniform.

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Be still my heart and eat yours out, Kevin Youkilis.

One day the White Sox dip a toe into the pool by acquiring a decorated veteran third baseman from the Red Sox.

The next day the Cubs dive in head first by bringing up a raw first baseman from the minor leagues.

Coincidence? No, no connection. But the difference symbolizes the relative hysteria inspired by these two franchises.

It's difficult to remember the arrival of an athlete in Chicago as anticipated as Rizzo's is.

Maybe Jay Cutler's was after the Bears traded for him to fill a vacancy at quarterback that dated nearly six decades.

The closest any baseball player's emergence came to this was Mark Prior's, and we all know how that turned out for the Cubs in the long run.

Not even Frank Thomas caused this sort of stir when the White Sox recalled him from the minors. Neither Ryne Sandberg nor Sammy Sosa was Ryne Sandberg or Sammy Sosa when he dented the local lineups.

Anthony Rizzo already is Anthony Rizzo even though he's one at-bat shy of his first at-bat with the Cubs.

Seriously, no baseball newbie compares to Rizzo, a player who is supposed to be the championship foundation for a franchise that hasn't won one in more than a century.

Cubs' fans and the Chicago media have tracked the young man since the day president of baseball operations Theo Epstein acquired him from San Diego last winter.

Epstein's high regard for Rizzo better be justified because this is the one player who could reduce his reputation from crack baseball executive to crackpot baseball executive.

Early Monday the word was that Rizzo was in the Iowa Cubs' lineup and his Chicago debut wasn't imminent; then word came that he was lifted from the game; then buzz began that he was on his way across the Iowa-Illinois border; then reports were confirmed that he would fly here that night and play for the Chicago Cubs tonight.

I needed a rest by that time and don't follow whether TV stations monitored Rizzo's progress toward the North Side on debut eve like they do Santa Claus' progress from the North Pole on Christmas Eve.

Have media outlets assigned their best reporters to the Rizzo beat to chronicle each of his burps, belches and blurts the rest of the season, to say nothing of his hits, runs and errors.

Has Cooperstown agreed to revise the five-year waiting period for Hall of Fame eligibility for mere mortals to five minutes for Anthony Rizzo?

Has the Cubs' promotions department announced an Anthony Rizzo Bobblehead Night yet?

Never mind that the Padres elevated Rizzo from the minor leagues in midseason last year and he proceeded to bat .141 with 1 home run and 9 runs batted in over 49 games.

This is a new year, a new team and supposedly a new Rizzo after he refined his skills at Triple-A this season.

The question is whether this will be the start of the new Cubs when Mr. Rizzo swoops down to light up Wrigley Field.

Or is it just the same old false hope.

mimrem@dailyherald.com

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