Rizzo has mixed emotions about latest move to leadoff spot
In an effort to shake up the Cubs offense, manager David Ross turned to one of Joe Maddon's favorite ploys -- moving Anthony Rizzo to the leadoff spot.
Before Wednesday's game in Atlanta, Rizzo admitted to having mixed emotions about batting first. He was asked if he ever imagines being a full-time leadoff man.
"I never wonder that and I hope it never happens," Rizzo said. "It's not really something I enjoy that much, leading off. It's fun for a little bit, but my whole life, I like hitting 3, 4, 5 and driving in the runs. Not to say the leadoff spot doesn't have RBI opportunities.
"But it's a different mentality and just something that I think the next generation of leadoff hitters might be different. But the way I was brought up in this game, it's just a psychologically weird thing leading off."
Rizzo was talking about how, in his mind, a leadoff man is supposed to make contact, coax walks and steal bases, like Ricky Henderson or Tim Raines. He doesn't fit that mold, but MLB as a whole has become more slug, less contact.
"I just want to win," Rizzo said. "Rossy mentioned it to me and just asked how I felt about it. I said, 'Yeah, I'm all for it.' Whatever helps and whatever it takes. Hopefully it's one of those things where it jump-starts me a little bit and it jump starts our team.
"It's just fun and exciting. I'm probably going to be swinging out of my shoes on the first pitch if it's a fastball today. You just have fun with it, that first at-bat. Next thing you know, you're up again in eight more batters. It comes around quick. It's just different leading off. I like it in short, sporadic moments."
Rizzo actually struck out on a pitch in the dirt in his first at-bat. Ian Happ, hitting just .139, was not in Wednesday's lineup. Ross said he envisions Happ eventually returning to the leadoff spot long-term.