The power-hitting and slick-fielding first baseman, who has been tearing up the Pacific Coast League with 14 home runs and a .353 batting average at Triple-A Iowa, could come in handy when the Cubs start playing at American League ballparks in a few weeks.
“Yeah that’s definitely going to be talked about,” manager Dale Sveum said when asked if it’s time to bring up Rizzo to help with a struggling offense. “He’s done everything he can down there. But once again, when you bring up somebody like that he has to play every day. That’s a million-dollar question now: How do we get that playing time?”
Rizzo isn’t about to send current first baseman Bryan LaHair to the bench and according to Sveum, Rizzo will not play anywhere but first. That would mean that LaHair moves to the outfield, but at the expense of who? Left field would be the logical spot, but that move isn’t so easy.
Despite the begging and pleading from fans, the Cubs aren’t about to quit on Alfonso Soriano right now, not when he is still owed his $19 million this year and $38 million over the next two seasons after that.
But it’s not just the money that is influencing the Cubs’ decision, it’s the fact that Soriano brings a veteran presence and is one of the few players on the roster that can supply power when his swing is right. The problem is that he hasn’t supplied much power, although he is finally heating up with three home runs over the last week.
When the Cubs’ interleague schedule shifts to American League parks, beginning with a June 8-10 series at Minnesota, the designated hitter spot will open a role for an additional bat.
“Probably the beginning of June and interleague play when we need the DH and those type of things too,” Sveum said about Rizzo’s possible arrival.
The Cubs play just six road interleague games, though. Aside from the series at Minnesota, they also play the White Sox across town June 18-20.
The schedule has them playing nine interleague home games (when the designated hitter isn’t used). In addition to the current series against the White Sox, they have home series against the Detroit Tigers (June 12-14) and the Boston Red Sox (June 15-17).