MESA, Ariz. – Anthony Rizzo walked over to the mound and tried to break the ice with C.J. Edwards, a scene the Cubs think could be replayed at Wrigley Field.
“He comes up to me and he goes, ‘Hey, do you want to play first base?’” Edwards recalled. “I was like, ‘Yeah, let’s switch.’”
Edwards felt the butterflies on Tuesday night at Peoria Stadium, walking two straight batters in the second inning of his Cactus League debut. The morning after, a 5-5 tie with the San Diego Padres seemed like a good lesson for the organization’s best pitching prospect.
“He was a little nervous, but he did well,” manager Rick Renteria said Wednesday at Cubs Park. “He fought through that little nervousness and got through it. He was very excited. He was very happy to be there and be a part of it. I think once we took him out, he took a nice deep breath. It was a good experience for him.”
Matching up against ex-Cub Andrew Cashner, San Diego’s Opening Day starter, Edwards went 2.2 innings, giving up three runs on four hits and three walks. The 22-year-old right-hander stands 6-foot-2, says he weighs 165 pounds and likes to meditate.
“When I went out the first inning, nerves were crazy,” Edwards said. “I can’t even explain the nerves that I had. But overall, I felt like I should be out there.
“The guys were behind me 100 percent. They have faith in me, just like I have faith in myself.”
Edwards is a big reason why Texas Rangers general manager Jon Daniels recently told The Arizona Republic that last summer’s Matt Garza trade could “haunt me” and “haunt” the organization.
Edwards helped advanced Class-A Daytona win a Florida State League title last September and should enter this season at Double-A Tennessee as Baseball America’s No. 28 overall prospect.
“I felt like I can be out there to help the club whenever the time comes,” Edwards said. “We all have our up-and-down games, but you’re going to go out there each and every day 110 percent and compete. When that day comes and I get the call, I feel I’ll be ready.”