- Doug Padilla, ESPN Staff Writer
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CHICAGO -- The struggling Cubs could use a savior, they only problem is that they have to convince one of the soon-to-be-arriving chosen ones that he doesn’t have to rescue the squad on the very first day.
The expectation is that one day Anthony Rizzo’s power production eventually takes the Cubs to new heights. But no matter when he comes up this season, the hopes of what he can deliver now will be tempered.
The San Diego Padres and their fans can provide the cautionary tale. With a lack of production out of the first-base spot last season, the Padres gave Rizzo his first chance and the results weren’t necessarily disappointing as they were to be expected.
Rizzo batted just .141 with the Padres over a span of 49 games (128 at-bats) before he was sent back down again.
“He got a cup of coffee last year and struggled but that’s the way of the game,” Cubs outfielder David DeJesus said. “You’re not going to come in and do the same as you doing down there up here. He went through that and hopefully he can use that as motivation to work harder but try less maybe up here this time.”
Trying less sounds like an odd concept, but by that DeJesus is talking about not trying to force the action so much. In fact, that short stint with the Padres last season might actually be a blessing. He might have gotten most of his growing pains out of the way early.
“He was a young guy who was in the big leagues last year with San Diego but he had it different and I hope he has learned to do a better job for the team because I think he has the talent and I think he can help the team to win,” Alfonso Soriano said.
Saturday is the magical date where Rizzo can remain with the team and his service time won’t force him into free agency a year sooner. Whether he comes up that day when the team is in Arizona, or makes his arrival during next week’s homestand, it’s now known that it will happen soon enough.
You don’t make moves like putting Bryan LaHair in right field and shifting DeJesus to center field if you don’t think the person you are clearing room for isn’t a dynamic player.
“I think everyone knows that; that’s pretty much out there,” DeJesus said. “Not only does Rizzo seem like he’s doing great down there, Bryan made a great play in the first inning yesterday. Hopefully we can keep working hard and have a good outfield out there.”