Cubs: Joe Maddon doesn't see pitchers targeting Anthony Rizzo


Cubs: Joe Maddon doesn't see pitchers targeting Anthony Rizzo

PITTSBURGH — A 96-mph fastball drilling Anthony Rizzo in the wrong spot could become a nightmare scenario for a Cubs team with ambitious goals this season.

But manager Joe Maddon doesn’t think opposing pitchers are headhunting and targeting the All-Star first baseman. Rizzo has been hit by six pitches already this month, setting the franchise record for April. So far, the Cubs have kept the peace.

“I’m not (seeing them) intentionally trying to hit (Rizzo),” Maddon said before Wednesday’s game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park. “I’m not seeing that vitriolic moment where the guy’s just going to smoke somebody. I’m sure it’s going to happen. But I don’t think I’ve seen it yet.”

Rizzo is only the second player in the last 100 seasons to get hit at least six times within a team’s first 13 games, according to ESPN Stats & Info. (Shin-Soo Choo was hit seven times during his first 13 games with the Cincinnati Reds in 2013.)

[MORE CUBS: How Scott Boras would change Kris Bryant's service-time case]

Within the last 102 seasons starting in 1914, only one Cub has been hit more than six times in a single calendar month (Marlon Byrd with seven in July 2010).

“I don’t worry (about it),” Maddon said. “You always have a pretty good sense about when something’s intentional or not. In our game, if we want to pitch inside also, we’re going to hit some guys on occasion.

“We smoked (Andrew) McCutchen (on Tuesday night) and nobody said anything about that. We weren’t trying to hit him. But we hit him. So I think you have to try to evaluate intent before you want to reciprocate.”

Rizzo — who began the day hitting .302 with a .475 on-base percentage — crowds the plate and usually shrugs it off: “It’s going to happen. I don’t mind it. It’s part of the game.”

[SHOP CUBS: Get an Anthony Rizzo jersey right here]

Only five players in the majors got hit more times than Rizzo (15) last season.

“That’s who he is,” Maddon said. “Sometimes it’s the style of the hitter more than it is the pitcher.”

Sometimes it’s a cruel game. Mike Olt’s on the 60-day disabled list with a hairline fracture in his right wrist after one of these freak accidents. The Cubs don’t want to think about their lineup without Rizzo’s left-handed power or what sort of hole that would leave at first base.

“He’s not going to give any quarter right there,” Maddon said. “Just maybe wear a pad. Just get the Barry Bonds autographed elbow pad, something like that.

“I guess Walmart’s selling them right now very inexpensively. That would be something I would encourage him to wear.”

Baseball Prospectus takes shot at Addison Russell in their latest annual

Baseball Prospectus takes shot at Addison Russell in their latest annual

Addison Russell is no longer with the Cubs and he hasn’t yet found a new home in baseball, but he hasn’t escaped being on the receiving end of some tough shots.

Baseball Prospectus, which produces a book each year with team and player capsules, breakdowns and projections, took such a shot. Their blurb for Russell is short and direct.

“The 24-hour national domestic violence hotline number is 800-799-7233.”

Russell was infamously suspended for domestic abuse late in 2018. He returned to the Cubs in 2019, but was not tendered a contract after the season, making him a free agent.

Russell hasn’t found a new landing place with spring training already underway. With this still hanging over his head, it’s no secret as to why.

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Cubs Talk Podcast: What will David Ross' impact on the Cubs be like in 2020?


Cubs Talk Podcast: What will David Ross' impact on the Cubs be like in 2020?

As new manager David Ross takes over for Joe Maddon, he intends to tweak the culture of the Cubs and set his own mark on the team. Jeff Nelson is joined by Outside the Ivy and Bleacher Nation's Michael Cerami to discuss what kind of impact David Ross will have on the 2020 Cubs, what should be expected from the pitching staff and bullpen, and the uncertainty of who plays in the outfield.

(1:36) - What does Ross' impact look like?

(8:28) - Concerns with the pitching staff

(16:00) - Will Craig Kimbrel be better this year?

(20:00) - Will Kris Bryant have enough rope to get used to leading off?

(25:05) - Who do you trust to play the outfield every day?

Listen here or in the embedded player below.

Cubs Talk Podcast