MILWAUKEE – Despite signs that he could be close to getting hot again, impact rookie Anthony Rizzo is experiencing a rocky August.
The left-handed slugger is batting just .238 in the month after a 1-for-4 day Wednesday, although his overall batting average is still at .289.
His power numbers are down as opponents continue to benefit from studying video from his prior success. His last home run came Aug. 5 at Los Angeles and he has just three extra-base hits in the month.
“He’s fallen to a little bit of the pitch selection and the caught-in-betweens: ‘Do I take, do I see pitches, do I swing at the first pitch?’" manager Dale Sveum said. “I think he is going through some of that other than having the same thought of just getting a good pitch instead of worrying about the situations.”
Sveum was quick to say that it wasn’t just a Rizzo problem and many of the Cubs' young hitters appear to be struggling with the desire to see a pitch and hit it, instead of the strategy to work counts, see pitches and take charge of at-bats.
“That’s what I mean about getting to that area of guys who are starting to worry and think way too much,” Sveum said. “Obviously the results are showing. You can’t think about situations all the time. You have to just apply yourself and produce in the situations at hand.”
There have been points this month during which Rizzo looks to be comfortable at the plate only to slide once again. He had four hits in an Aug. 13 game during the last homestand and in the opener of the series at Milwaukee he had two hits and an RBI double.
But Sveum doesn’t think that sustained success will come unless he frees his mind.
“You can’t think up there that ‘I have to do this, I have to do that, I have to take pitches,’” Sveum said. “You can’t do that. You have to have the same gameplan all the time. That’s where I think we struggle. The gameplan goes out the window too often.”
Rizzo had a day off Sunday, his first since being called up in late June, but Sveum isn’t looking to get his regular first baseman and No. 3 hitter frequent days off. Rizzo did hit in the cleanup spot Wednesday as Alfonso Soriano got the day off.