He’s back. Or at least he might be.
Friday might be the night that Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo looks back on with plenty of meaning. With “75-100” friends and family looking on, Rizzo might have found his swing in Miami. He said as much after belting two two-run home runs to help defeat the Miami Marlins 4-2.
“It was a good day, especially looking at the video after the game,” Rizzo told reporters. “The swing is where I want it to be. Now it’s just staying consistent with it.”
Rizzo said his finish was a little high previously -- even on home runs -- but Friday was better. It might come as a surprise but the two home runs were not what he was most happy with. He added an eighth-inning single which raised his average to exactly .200.
“It’s going to sound stupid but the single there in my last at-bat was probably my favorite one because I stayed inside the ball,” he said.
Rizzo has eight home runs and 18 runs batted in, all with that .200 average. As you’d imagine he’s had mixed emotions with that kind of start.
“A roller coaster,” Rizzo said recently. “The home runs are there, the RBIs are there, but the average isn’t there. And the strikeouts are a little high.”
Just the night before Rizzo had struck out three times to raise his total to 26, tied for fifth most in the National League. He said it was a little embarrassing to have that kind of night in his hometown. He more than made up for it on Friday.
Talking to Rizzo and everyone else in the Cubs organization -- even before his big night Friday -- no one expressed concern with his start. They felt the hits would come and the home runs were at least keeping him “sane” as manager Dale Sveum put it.
Rizzo never showed frustration. In fact he had fun with his “all or nothing” start to the season even chiding assistant hitting coach (and notorious home run or strikeout king) Rob Deer.
“He’s been kidding around with me, saying, ‘I think I’m hanging around you too much, getting your numbers,’” Deer said. He’s not going to be the type of hitter I was, hopefully. He’s a much better hitter.”
And that’s the glass half-full approach. If his power stays where it is and the average rises the Cubs might have something special growing.
“That will all come, plus everything else when he gets hot,” Sveum said.
That’s when the NL will come to fear Rizzo. A high-average, power-hitting first baseman has eluded the Cubs for years. Rizzo looked like he could be that player in half a season last year, but early on in 2013 he looked lost at times. On Friday, the Cubs may have found him again.