Young Cubs stars start season with bang

PITTSBURGH -- Budding Chicago Cubs stars Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro picked up where they left off last season in Monday’s 3-1 Opening Day win over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

In Castro’s case, he just carried over his momentum from the spring, beginning 2013 with a two-hit, one-stolen base performance while adding some stellar defense.

Rizzo, meanwhile, didn’t hit a home run the entire exhibition season, including his stint with Team Italy in the World Baseball Classic. He connected on the first pitch he saw on Monday.

“I don’t really remember the pitch or where I hit it,” Rizzo said. “I kind of blacked out there for a second.”

It’s too bad he didn’t know where it went -- out of the ballpark to deep center field, maybe into the Allegheny River. So why the blackout?

“The game sped up, Opening Day, a lot of emotions. Really good feeling,” Rizzo said.

Rizzo has personal goals for the season that he’s not revealing, and after struggling on some fastballs during spring training he sent the first one he saw Monday about as far as it could go. Was he anxious after a homerless spring?

“You get guys chirping at you,” he joked regarding his teammates. “It’s nice to get it out of the way.”