Chicago Cubs' Rizzo stays hot, he stays put at leadoff
Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon said Monday he is inclined to leave first baseman Anthony Rizzo in the leadoff spot for the foreseeable future.
In the five-game series against the Cardinals this past weekend, Rizzo reached base safely 17 times in 23 plate appearances, good for a 739 on-base percentage. Rizzo moved to the leadoff spot July 13 and entered Monday 15-for-27 (.556) with a 1.473 OPS in eight games.
"He's excited about it," Maddon said. "He just goes up there ready. Most really good leadoff hitters are ready in that first at-bat. He'll tell you he's the greatest of all time, and he's still aspiring to be that. He's definitely ready for that at-bat. He definitely has a plan. He has a plan every at-bat. He talks to me about it a lot before he goes and hits.
"He's impressive, his understanding of the game. And he slows it down. It's never too fast. Even if he's going badly, he's still able to keep in the game. I just think you're seeing a ready hitter."
Maddon added that he is toying with batting the pitcher eighth if Rizzo continues as his leadoff man longer term. That way, he will have a table-setter other than a pitcher hitting in front of him.
Rizzo entered Monday four games away from 1,000 in his career since making his big-league debut with the San Diego Padres in 2011. He was 19 hits away from 1,000 for his career and 2 RBI from 600.
Be careful what you wish for:
The July 31 nonwaiver trading deadline is a week away. The Cubs likely will add to their pitching staff -- perhaps a starter and another arm for the bullpen -- but Joe Maddon issued a word of caution about such trades.
"I learned my lesson with the Angels," he said. "If you bring somebody in, the guys (the players) got to know this guy is going to be positively impactful to the group as opposed to the group that's already here.
"I've been involved in a situation where a guy comes in, definitely not an upgrade of what we had had, and then there was a lot of turmoil within the clubhouse because guys who had been there all year could do the job equally as well if not better getting pushed aside.
"That's something that always needs to be evaluated. If you're going to make a move, it's got to be obvious, not maybe to the general public but to the guys in that room, that this guy is going to be positively impactful to us. Otherwise it can work against you."