Cubs' Rizzo makes an immediate difference | Bleader

Cubs' Rizzo makes an immediate difference

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Anthony Rizzo: His hands are lower and his performance better with the Cubs -- so far.
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  • Anthony Rizzo: His hands are lower and his performance better with the Cubs—so far
Funny, isn't it, how baseball, with its emphasis on the individual, will sort out a guy who already had all eyes upon him.

The ball will find you, players say, and it found Anthony Rizzo Tuesday—in a good way.

Rizzo is the poster boy of the Theo Epstein era in Chicago. He was beloved as a prospect by Epstein and lieutenant Jed Hoyer in Boston, so when Hoyer went to take over San Diego he traded win-now first baseman Adrian Gonzalez to Epstein's Red Sox for the future as embodied in Rizzo.

When Epstein and Hoyer were reunited here atop the Cubs' baseball operations last winter, one of the first things they did was bring in Rizzo for prized 100-mile-an-hour pitching prospect Andrew Cashner.

Having stunk it up last year in San Diego during his cup of bitter coffee with the Padres, Rizzo cooled his heels in Iowa the first few months of the season and tore it up. Tuesday night he made his Cubs debut against the hated New York Mets.

Rizzo stung one in the first, and New York shortstop Ruben Tejada couldn't handle it. Official scorer Bob Rosenberg ruled it an error until he realized he was messing up the story line and changed it to a hit (which it really was; that ball was socked). The Cubs didn't score, however, and in the next inning Rizzo missed a diving stop at first base that allowed the Mets to draw first blood. They led 2-0 before he batted again in the third.

With two on and no outs he worked the count to 2-0, then swung at a bad changeup. Then he grounded to first but moved both runners up, and both went on to score. With the score tied at 3 in the fourth, Rizzo delivered a run-scoring, go-ahead single and was rewarded for it by Rosenberg, who ruled it an RBI double when Rizzo took second on the throw.

The Cubs went on to win 5-3, and Carlos Marmol saved it not for reliever Scott Maine, but for Rizzo, who earned the game-winning RBI (for those who still observe that stat) in his debut with the Cubs.

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