Johnson: Rizzo the 'big difference' for Cubs

July, 31, 2012
7/31/12
1:03
PM CT
By ESPNChicago.com
ESPNChicago.com
Reed Johnson, who was traded to the Atlanta Braves on Monday night, leaves the Chicago Cubs during their best stretch of the season, and the veteran outfielder knows the key ingredient to the surge.

[+] EnlargeRizzo
David Banks/US PresswireAnthony Rizzo leads National League rookies with a .330 batting average.
"I think (Anthony) Rizzo made the big difference," Johnson said Tuesday on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000. "That's the one thing we were lacking earlier in the year was a big bat in the middle of the order that was driving in runs. We were losing those games by one run early in the season. Obviously our bullpen wasn't doing that well and they're doing a lot better now.

"I think the combination of those two things really turned that thing around. They're headed in the right direction for sure."

The rebuilding Cubs, who are still 15 games under .500 and 17 1/2 games out of first place, are 18-10 since calling up Rizzo from Triple-A Iowa on June 26. The 22-year-old first baseman, acquired by the Cubs in an offseason trade with the San Diego Padres for pitcher Andrew Cashner, has hit from Day 1. He leads National League rookies with a .330 batting average and a .958 OPS. He hit his eighth home run in 28 games in a victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday.

Johnson believes Rizzo, who credited Johnson and Alfonso Soriano for showing him the ropes during his brief major league stint with the Cubs, is a star in the making.

"I think the reason I see that he is going to be a star is just the attitude in general," Johnson said. "He doesn't get too high, and he doesn't get too low which is exactly what you need in this game. I think he is the real deal. He has come up here, and he's respectful to the older players, and I think that's something you don't see in that younger generation. He's got all the tools and all the opportunity there in Chicago to be that guy."


Former Cubs outfielder Reed Johnson joined "Waddle & Silvy" to discuss his trade to the Braves, the impact of Anthony Rizzo and more.

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Starlin Castro
BA HR RBI R
.284 13 64 53
OTHER LEADERS
HRA. Rizzo 29
RBIA. Rizzo 69
RA. Rizzo 80
OPSA. Rizzo .896
WJ. Hammel 8
ERAT. Wood 4.86
SOJ. Arrieta 122