- Matt Ehalt, ESPN New York contributor
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NEW YORK -- Before facing the New York Mets on Friday, Chicago Cubs outfielder Scott Hairston stopped by Central Park with his family, taking in one of the most historic places in a city he called home for two years.
"Always enjoy coming here," Hairston said.
Hairston is playing in Flushing for the first time since he left the Mets to sign with the Cubs in the offseason. Hairston played for the Mets in 2011-12, excelling as a pinch hitter.
"It's nice. It's always good to see familiar places," Hairston said. "Had a lot of good times here in New York. I appreciated being a part of Mets history."
In two years with the Mets, Hairston batted. 255 with 27 homers and 81 RBIs. In the offseason, he originally believed there was a chance he would be back with the Mets, but he instead landed with the Cubs on a two-year deal. Hairston called his brief time in New York a great experience.
"I understand the game, I understand each year is different with how you want to mold a team. If I wasn't part of their plans, there's no hard feelings," Hairston said. "I respect (Mets GM) Sandy Alderson, I respect the front office. I was not bitter toward them at all."
Switching the lineup: For the first time all season, first baseman Anthony Rizzo is hitting fifth for the Cubs. Rizzo leads the team with 10 homers and 39 RBIs, but is hitting just .243.
In June, he's hitting just .135 and has failed to hit a home run. Nate Schierholtz is instead batting third.
"Just kind of mixing it up," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "Right now, you could say (Schierholtz)'s our best hitter. Swinging the bat as good as anybody from the left side. Kind of put Rizzo down a little bit to let him kick back a little bit in a different spot and see what happens. Not that the third spot is a whole lot different than the fifth, but just mix things up a little bit with Rizzo to try to get him out of that third spot and see what happens."
Rodriguez’ role: Recently acquired pitcher Henry Rodriguez was added the roster for Friday's game while lefty pitcher Brooks Raley was optioned to Triple-A Iowa. Rodriguez was acquired in a trade on Tuesday from Washington and is 0-1 with a 4.00 ERA in 17 games this year, all with Washington.
"He'll be a middle (innings) guy, winning or losing. We'll see what we got," Sveum said. "Try to get him built up because we need him to be able to go two innings, and he hasn't done that a whole lot, mainly because an effect of being kind of wild is his efficiency isn't going to be all that good to go two innings. But that's what we're looking for, a power arm that can be able to do both and eventually fall into even a bigger role."
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