Cubs call up prospect Anthony Rizzo

Updated: June 26, 2012, 12:50 PM ET
ESPNChicago.com

The Chicago Cubs will call up top prospect Anthony Rizzo, and the slugging first baseman will make his 2012 debut Tuesday against the New York Mets.

"I think obviously we have found that date," manager Dale Sveum said. "We will be getting Rizzo (Tuesday). It's obviously an exciting day for us and the organization to get him in the lineup and see what happens."

The left-handed hitting Rizzo was pulled from the Iowa Cubs game in the fourth inning on Monday and left the ballpark to make his way to Chicago.

The Cubs face tough lefty Johan Santana in the opener of a three-game series against the Mets on Monday, but Sveum insisted that isn't why the Rizzo call-up wouldn't take place until Tuesday. Right-hander Dillon Gee will start for the Mets on Tuesday.

"I don't think that came into play as much because we have two more (lefties) coming (in the next series) against Houston," Sveum said. "After that we should get a break of the left-handed pitching for a little bit."

Rizzo is batting .342 with a Pacific Coast-leading 23 home runs and 62 RBIs, good for third in the league.

Cubs president Theo Epstein said on June 13 that the organization wanted Rizzo to play 162 games in Triple-A before being recalled. Monday's game was his 163rd at Triple-A, with 93 games with the Padres' affiliate in Tucson in 2011 and 70 at Iowa this season.

The Cubs are not admitting that by having him on the roster for more than 104 days this season it would make Rizzo eligible for agency in 2017 instead of 2018. He is already past that number at the time of his recall.

Cubs first baseman Bryan LaHair has played some in right field recently to make room for Rizzo. David DeJesus likely will take over in center field with Tony Campana going to the bench.

Sveum confirmed that Rizzo will immediately become the everyday first baseman and will even start against left-handers, something LaHair wasn't doing.

With all the hype surrounding Rizzo, the Cubs will proceed with caution so that expectations aren't overblown.

"That's what he has to do, just play baseball," left fielder Alfonso Soriano said. "That's what he knows how to do. Just play baseball and you don't have to worry about the pressure. Just go out there and have fun. That's what I want to say to him personally and I want to just let him know that he's doing his job and to be happy."

Rizzo had a 49-game major league stint last season with the San Diego Padres where he struggled at the plate. He batted just .141 (18-for-128) with one home run, nine RBIs and a .242 slugging percentage. The positives the Cubs will take out of that is that at least Rizzo knows what to expect when he arrives Tuesday.

"To ease his mind he has to understand that he's not the savior of this offense right now," Sveum said. "I think that's what he has to be careful of. If he comes up here trying to save a struggling offense, he can't do that with one swing of the bat all the time ... but it would be nice if he does."

Information from the Associated Press and ESPNChicago's Doug Padilla was used in this report.