CINCINNATI (AP) Anthony Rizzo didn’t hesitate when Cubs manager Joe Maddon asked if he’d finish the game at third base, a position he’d never played at any point in his career.
Can’t be that hard, right? Even if he is left-handed and would have to turn his body to throw to his normal spot at first base?
”I said `Yeah, I can play,”’ Rizzo said on Wednesday . ”I can field ground balls and throw. It’s really as simple as you can make it.”
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Simple in theory. In practice, Rizzo discovered that it’s a whole different world on the other side of the infield.
Just for fun, Maddon moved Rizzo to third base on Tuesday night after Kris Bryant got hit in the hand by a pitch and went for X-rays that were negative. Rizzo played his unaccustomed spot in the ninth inning and didn’t get a ball hit his way as the Cubs finished off a 13-9 win over the Cincinnati Reds.
Rizzo became only the third left-handed third baseman in Cubs history. The other two were in the 1800s. Although eager for the new experience, he started having second thoughts when he actually saw Joey Votto – the Reds’ first batter of the ninth inning – dig in at the plate.
”I was not prepared at all,” Rizzo said. ”I’ve maybe taken ground balls there once this year, just to mess around.”
Rizzo spent a lot of time talking to shortstop Javier Baez during the half-inning, comparing notes with someone who’s accustomed to being on that side of the infield.
”Everything’s in reverse,” Rizzo said. ”You’re seeing Votto from the other side. Seeing him from this side, it was just really weird. It felt like my equilibrium was off.”
Rizzo has added to his resume in several ways this season. He’s batted leadoff 13 times. He’s also technically listed as a second baseman when the Cubs bring him in to cover on certain bunt plays.
Now, he’s played the hot corner – sort of.
”I was just standing there,” he said.
Rizzo was back at first base on Wednesday, with Tommy La Stella playing third while Bryant got a day off. The National League MVP was feeling much better a day after he got hit on the side of the left hand, and there was a chance he could be available to pinch hit.
Rizzo is willing to play other positions, including the outfield. He’s lobbied to pitch sometime, although Maddon said unequivocally that there’s no way that would happen. Rizzo will keep trying to talk him into it.
”I think it would have to be the perfect storm,” Rizzo said. ”It would have to be a playoff game, we’re out of pitchers and I’m the absolute last resort in the 27th inning. That’s the only way I could get it.”
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