Rizzo, Chicago Cubs embrace Parkland families

MIAMI - It wasn't just Anthony Rizzo who went over and greeted families affected by the mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in February.

Rizzo, a graduate of the school in Parkland, Florida, was joined by all of his Chicago Cubs teammates before batting practice as they embraced the families before batting practice. The Cubs and Miami Marlins hosted four affected families, including a student who was wounded in the attack.

That did not surprise manager Joe Maddon.

"Of course," Maddon said. "We've all felt it, Anthony, of course, most directly. But the way our group interacts - and I'm not saying nobody else does it - everyone is here to support everyone else.

"We're definitely mindful of everything that happened. It doesn't surprise me that the guys have gone out there and shown that kind of respect for these people. I don't anticipate it to change. It's going to be like this for a long time here.

"And it's all about our guys. It's about ownership. It's about front office. There's enough in place that really promotes this kind of interaction."

Indeed, Cubs president Theo Epstein spent time visiting with the families, as well.

For the second straight day, Cubs players wore Stoneman Douglas T-shirts for batting practice. Family members in attendance were honored before the game with a moment of silence. They also threw out ceremonial first pitches, caught by Rizzo and members of the Marlins.

Also included as part of the ceremonies was a check presentation of $305,000 from money raised in an auction. Funds will go to the National Compassion Fund and be directed to help the families.

"It's going to be another weird, emotional moment," Rizzo said before the event. "But I'm happy a couple families are coming out. We've got a lot of people here. I'm looking forward to it."

It's Yu's turn:

Yu Darvish will make his first regular-season start for the Cubs on Saturday night. During spring training, Darvish was 3-0 with a 2.79 ERA in 5 starts.

The Cubs signed Darvish as a free agent on the eve of spring training.

"My body condition is great," he said through a translator. "My command was there. I'm as ready as can be going into the season."

Darvish was with the Texas Rangers from 2012 through the middle of last year, when he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers. He beat the Cubs 6-1 last fall in Game 3 of the National League championship series, working 6⅓ innings of 1-run ball.

"My impression back then was they get a lot of runs where they needed to in those crucial moments," Darvish said. "They have a really good team, and the same goes for this season."

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