Cubs first baseman fights tears at Florida shooting vigil

FILE - In this Aug .13, 2017, file photo, Chicago Cubs' Anthony Rizzo waits to bat against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the seventh inning of a baseball game in Phoenix. Rizzo is departing spring training for his home in Parkland, Fla., to offer support in the wake of a deadly shooting at his former high school.  (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)

PARKLAND, Fla. (AP) Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo fought back tears as he spoke at a Florida vigil for the 17 victims killed in a shooting at his former high school, saying we’re going to be ”a bit broken for a while.”

Rizzo left spring training Thursday for his hometown of Parkland. He is a 2007 graduate of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, a site now swarmed by law enforcement, grieving students and makeshift memorials following among the deadlines school shootings in U.S. history.

”I went to Stoneman Douglas. I grew up at Stoneman Douglas, I played on those fields, I went to those classes, I studied in those classrooms, ” he said Thursday, his voice breaking as many in the audience of more than 1,000 were heard crying.

He noted that he is ”a Parklander for life,” and promised ”whatever comfort I can give.”

His parents still live in the area. In November, Rizzo donated $150,000 to his alma mater to help toward lights for the baseball and softball fields.

The slugger read his remarks from a paper, noting he felt like the cycle of school violence happens all too often.

”We get horrified that this violence is inflicted on our kids, we get angry that there’s nothing we can do and nothing is done about it and then we ultimately get immune and move on to something else,” Rizzo said. ”But then it happens in our own town … and we realize it could happen to us at our safe and tight knit community Parkland.

Manager Joe Maddon exchanged text messages with Rizzo before he left town and encouraged him to go. He is expected back by Monday for the club’s first full-squad workout.

”While I don’t have all the answers, I know that something has to change before this is visited on another community and another community.”

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