Hoyer knows Rizzo cant be the savior for Cubs


Hoyer knows Rizzo cant be the savior for Cubs

Across the Twitter universe, the Anthony Rizzo to Wrigley Field rumors caught fire on Sunday night.

But that was just someone being overanxious and connecting the wrong dots on the official Iowa Cubs account. Rizzo left that Triple-A game with a sore right wrist after a swing and miss. He wasnt catching a flight to Chicago.

The initial X-rays in Memphis were negative, and the Cubs were still gathering information on Monday, describing the injury as nothing serious.

During their 12-game losing streak, the Cubs had been shut out twice, and only two times scored more than four runs. But at the moment, theyre not looking at Rizzo to generate a spark.

No young player should ever be viewed as the savior or the changer of a major-league offense, general manager Jed Hoyer said. We have a lot of veterans on this team and were going to get through this and get on the right track because of those veteran guys, not because of young guys coming up from the minor leagues.

Whether thats Rizzo, whether thats other guys, we cant count on those guys as saviors. Theyre big parts of our future, but thats not their role for us in 2012.

Hoyer will be guided by experience. Last June, the Padres needed a jumpstart. They werent getting enough offense out of Brad Hawpe, so Hoyer promoted Rizzo, then 21, from Triple-A Tucson.

In 52 games there, Rizzo had hit .365 with 16 homers and 63 RBI. It didnt translate to San Diego, where he hit .141 with 46 strikeouts in 128 at-bats.

Rizzo has described that video as sickening to watch. Hes fixed his swing to the point where hes hitting .354 with 17 homers and 46 RBI in his first 48 games at Iowa.

Ive certainly taken the blame for bringing him up last year in almost an identical situation I might add when youre struggling to score runs, Hoyer said. We brought him up because we werent getting any production at first base. (And) as things sped up on (Rizzo), he had some mechanical flaws.

Hes worked hard to close those holes. It doesnt mean hes not going to have his struggles at times when he gets up here, like every young player. But I think weve liked what weve seen, his willingness to make adjustments and the way hes gone about his business in Triple-A.

Looking to add some power to his lineup, manager Dale Sveum said the front office could consider calling up Rizzo for road interleague series against the Twins (June 8-10) and White Sox (June 18-20), when the Cubs will need a designated hitter.

Everythings on the table this time of year, Hoyer said, but right now we got to get to the bottom of the reason he came out of the game (on Sunday). Were not going to bring him up until we feel like its his time to come up here and make those adjustments.

Were not bringing him up here as a changer of our fortunes. Thats not fair to him.

Team president Theo Epstein has implicitly downplayed the idea of major-league service time being at the center of this decision.

But the Cubs have obviously calculated that waiting until late June to promote Rizzo would preserve a year of club control and delay his free agency.

Were not going to rush him, Epstein said. Were going to wait until the time is right, his development being the primary factor.

So back to our regularly scheduled Rizzo Watch. Just dont believe every tweet you read.

I got to concern myself with Cubs standards, Epstein said. Its hard to also worry about journalistic standards sometimes, or whatever the heck happened down there. I guess it was our fault, or our affiliates fault. It happens. I understand it. Its part of the modern world.

Bears Talk Podcast: What's next for Bears at QB after Brian Hoyer suffers broken arm?


Bears Talk Podcast: What's next for Bears at QB after Brian Hoyer suffers broken arm?

Lance Briggs, Alex Brown and Jim Miller break down where the Bears go at QB following Brian Hoyer’s injury and evaluate the defense’s gutsy performance on Thursday night against the Packers despite numerous injuries. Plus, a look at the big picture and who can help the Bears down the road.

Check out the latest edition of the Bears Talk Podcast here:

Anthony Rizzo/Javier Baez antics show how this Cubs team doesn’t feel the same weight of history

Anthony Rizzo/Javier Baez antics show how this Cubs team doesn’t feel the same weight of history

LOS ANGELES – Within minutes of the last out on Thursday night at Dodger Stadium, ESPN’s @SportsCenter account sent out a photo of Moises Alou at the Wrigley Field wall to more than 30 million Twitter followers: “The last time the Cubs were up 3-2 in an NLCS was Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS vs. the Marlins. Most remember it as ‘the Bartman Game.’”

As Kerry Wood once said: “Irrelevant, dude.”
Look, the Cubs still need to find a way to beat either Clayton Kershaw or Rich Hill this weekend, with Kenley Jansen resting and waiting for the multiple-inning saves. The obligatory description for Kershaw is “the best pitcher on the planet.” Hill’s lefty curveball – and “the perceptual velocity” of his fastball – freezes hitters. Jansen has a mystical cutter reminiscent of the great Mariano Rivera. The top-heavy part of this Los Angeles playoff pitching staff has held the Cubs to zero runs in 16.1 innings.

But until proven otherwise, forget about this idea of a Cubs team weighed down by the history of a franchise that hasn’t played in the World Series since 1945.

Just look at Javier Baez getting in Anthony Rizzo’s airspace during Game 5, the human-highlight-film second baseman standing right next to the All-Star first baseman as he caught a Kike Hernandez pop-up for the second out of the third inning.

It didn’t matter that this was a 1-0 game and MVP-ballot players Justin Turner and Corey Seager were coming up. This is what the 2016 Cubs do. Rizzo caught the ball, quickly flipped it underhand and it bounced off Baez’s chest – in front of a sellout crowd of 54,449 and a national Fox Sports 1 audience.

“We always mess around,” Rizzo said at his locker inside a tight clubhouse jammed with media after an 8-4 win. “So I’m screaming: ‘Javy! Javy! I got it! I got it, Javy, I got it!’

“And usually he’ll yell at me: ‘Don’t miss it!’ Or I’ll yell at him: ‘Don’t miss it!’

“We do that a lot. If it’s a pop-up to him, I’ll go right behind him. It’s just little ways of slowing the game down and having fun, too.”

Rizzo is a Gold Glove-caliber first baseman for a team that led the majors in defensive efficiency this year. As a super-utility guy, Baez got credit for 11 defensive runs saved in 383 innings at second base, or one less than co-leaders Dustin Pedroia and Ian Kinsler, who each did it in almost 1,300 innings.

“Sometimes when I call (Rizzo) off to get a fly ball, he starts talking to me,” Baez said. “I tell him: ‘Hey, you can do whatever you want. Just don’t move my head. You can touch me if you want. Just don’t move my head.’

“And I told him to be ready for it, because I was going to do the same thing. You just got to be focused on the fly ball. No matter what’s happening around you, you just got to catch it.”

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This isn’t about Bartman. It’s about a group of young, confident players who are growing up together and absolutely expect to be in this position. It’s manager Joe Maddon designing “Embrace The Target” T-shirts and telling them to show up to the ballpark whenever they want and then blow off batting practice.

“For sure, we’re relaxed,” said Baez, who’s gone viral during these playoffs, the rest of the country witnessing his amazing instincts and flashy personality. “I’m relaxed when I play defense.”

The thing is, Rizzo and Baez could be playing next to each other for the next five years, the same way Kris Bryant and Addison Russell will be anchoring the left side of the infield.

This is how Rizzo introduced Russell to The Show when a natural shortstop tried to learn second base on the fly last year and track pop-ups in front of 40,000 people: “Hey, watch out for that skateboard behind you! Don’t trip!”

“Oh yeah, we yell at each other all the time,” Rizzo said. “It’s just one of those things where you got to stay loose.”