Cubs' Rizzo basking in spotlight's glow

June, 30, 2012
6/30/12
7:20
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO – General manager Jed Hoyer would prefer the media not run with a daily Anthony Rizzo update, but the kid is sort of making that kind of request impossible.

[+] EnlargeAnthony Rizzo
AP Photo/Nam Y. HuhAnthony Rizzo hit his first home run with the Cubs in Saturday's win.

Rizzo crushed a towering two-run shot to give the Cubs the lead for good Saturday and as strange as it seems, the left-handed power hitter didn’t appear to get all of it.

The ball seemed to float to the new party deck atop the new video board in right field, giving the sense that the buildings – and more specially the windows – across Sheffield Ave. are well within his reach.

But the daily Rizzo updates and constant exposure in the media this week might not only prove to be a detriment to the young player. There is a chance that it could get annoying for the rest of the players on the 25-man roster.

While he was being interviewed on live television after Saturday’s game, starting pitcher Matt Garza came out with a shaving cream pie, but it wasn’t for Rizzo. It was for the camera filming him. Garza then took the headphones from Rizzo, said something inaudible and the interview was done.

Asked afterward if he was trying to protect Rizzo, who has been the subject of pre and postgame interviews every day this week, Garza gave a wink.

“A little bit,” Garza said. “Get that guy out of the limelight a little bit. He’s doing his thing. Just let him enjoy it. You only get to make a debut as a Cub one time. He’s doing a great job producing and doing what he does. Let the guy enjoy it. He’s going to be a great one. Let him enjoy it and there will be a lot of time in front of the camera.”

The thing is, Rizzo has been able to manage the added requests for his time just nicely. He not only had the go-ahead home run Saturday, he also made nice defensive play on a short hop before getting a side-arm throw off to home plate to cut down a run.

On Tuesday, the day when he made his debut and was the subject of a pregame media blitz, he also had the go-ahead RBI in a victory. In fact, since Rizzo has been on board, the Cubs have won three of the four games in which he has played.

Rizzo was asked if the four games in five days have been a whirlwind and one of the most eventful weeks of his life.

“Yeah but it's baseball,” he said. “That's what I keep bringing it down to. I'm having a lot of fun, keeping it very loose.”

If he continues to produce, though, the attention might only grow which is why Hoyer wished there was a way for a young phenom to both produce at a high level all while being left alone. He probably knows as much as anybody that it’s wishful thinking.

“We just have to let him play; he’s very talented,” Hoyer said immediately after he had explained why Rizzo should be better in this major league stint as opposed to the one last year with the Padres. “He clearly has nothing left to prove in the minor leagues and I think it’s just time to just let him play in the big leagues.

“Sort of the daily watch in how he’s doing is probably not a great thing for anybody. Just let him play, look up and hopefully the numbers will be there for him at the end of the year.”

Doug Padilla

Chicago White Sox beat reporter
Doug joined ESPN Chicago in July 2010 and covers the Chicago White Sox for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN Radio 1000.

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Emilio Bonifacio
BA HR RBI R
.358 0 2 11
OTHER LEADERS
HRW. Castillo 3
RBIS. Castro 9
RE. Bonifacio 11
OPSA. Rizzo .914
WJ. Hammel 2
ERAJ. Samardzija 1.29
SOJ. Samardzija 22