Cubs

Rizzo feels more comfortable this offseason

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Rizzo feels more comfortable this offseason

After his performance last season, Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo is almost certain he will stay put this offseason.

Rizzo, who hit .285 with 15 homers and 48 RBIs in 87 games, had the type of season that should lend the youngster a bunch of confidence. But since he has been traded in each of the past two offseasons, Rizzo wont allow himself to get too comfortable, even if management is high on his abilities.

Youve still got to work hard and put in the time, Rizzo said before Saturdays National Italian-American Sports Hall of Fame in Rosemont. But I feel good. I know Im not going to get traded, hopefully at least. I just feel good and confident.

Rizzo should take some solace in the fact Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer and assistant GM Jason McLeod have twice acquired him.

The second of those acquisitions was January 6 when the Cubs dealt Andrew Cashner to the San Diego Padres in exchange for Rizzo.

It was Hoyer and McLeod who also brought Rizzo to the Padres as part of a four-player package that sent Adrian Gonzalez to the Boston Red Sox in December 2010. Though Rizzo wasnt considered the centerpiece of the Gonzalez trade -- Red Sox No. 1 prospect Casey Kelly was also included -- Hoyer and McLeod were clearly excited about the first baseman. The Padres promoted Rizzo to the majors in June 2011 after he tore up Triple-A pitching and believed him to be the franchises first baseman of the future.

But Rizzo hit only .141 in 153 plate appearances with the Padres and after Hoyer and McLeod joined Theo Epstein with the Cubs, Rizzos job status appeared to be in doubt. The Padres new brass made their feelings even more clear when they acquired top prospect and first baseman Yonder Alonso from the Cincinnati Reds last December, which led to Rizzo feeling more uncertain about his future with the Padres.

Less than three weeks later, Rizzo was headed to Chicago.

I had no idea what they were going to do, Rizzo said. Its one of those things that is uncontrollable. I think it worked out for the best. Once (the Alonso trade) happened, I hoped it would be here because Jed and Theo and Jason all came over here. So I was hoping they believed in me and they brought me over and I have an opportunity and have got to keep going with it.

Perhaps it was the belief held by Hoyer, McLeod and Epstein that allowed Rizzo to overcome a slight confidence problem brought on by his struggles in 2011. Unlike the previous season, Rizzo didnt endure long slumps with the Cubs. He reduced his strikeouts from once every 2.78 at-bats in 2011 to once every 5.44 at-bats. He also hit 14 more homers and never gave the Cubs reason to remove him from the lineup.

(My confidence) did waver definitely (in 2011), but it didnt get me down because I knew that it was all mental, Rizzo said. I just got out of it and had some success last year and just want to keep building. Next season, spring training, I just cant wait to get out there and get going.

He hopes with the Cubs.

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 12th + 13th homers in 1998

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AP

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 12th + 13th homers in 1998

It's the 20th anniversary of the Summer of Sammy, when Sosa and Mark McGwire went toe-to-toe in one of the most exciting seasons in American sports history chasing after Roger Maris' home run record. All year, we're going to go homer-by-homer on Sosa's 66 longballs, with highlights and info about each. Enjoy.

An off-day did nothing to slow down the 1998 National League MVP as Sosa collected his second straight 2-homer game May 27 of that season.

He went deep in the eighth and ninth innings of a Cubs' 10-5 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies at Wrigley Field, driving in 3 runs. 

The first homer - off Darrin Winston - was an absolute blast, traveling an estimated 460 feet. The second shot was tame in comparison with only 400 feet as a recorded distance.

In a matter of two games, Sosa raised his season OPS from .930 to .988 and his slugging percentage from .521 to .577 thanks to a pair of 2-homer contests.

Fun fact: Doug Glanville - former Cubs outfielder and current NBC Sports Chicago analyst - was the Phillies leadoff hitter that day in 1998, collecting three hits and scoring a pair of runs.

Yu Darvish back on the DL for Cubs with triceps tendinitis

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USA TODAY

Yu Darvish back on the DL for Cubs with triceps tendinitis

Yu Darvish now has more trips to the disabled list in a Cubs uniform than wins.

The Cubs place their 31-year-old right-handed pitcher on the DL Saturday evening with right triceps tendinitis. The move is retroactive to May 23, so he may only have to miss one turn through the rotation.

In a corresponding move, Randy Rosario was recalled from Triple-A Iowa to provide Joe Maddon with another arm in the bullpen. Tyler Chatwood will start Sunday in Darvish's place.

Thanks to two off-days on the schedule last week, the Cubs should be fine with their rotation for a little while. Jon Lester could go on regular rest Monday, but the Cubs would need to make a decision for Tuesday given Kyle Hendricks just threw Friday afternoon.

That decision could mean Mike Montgomery moving from the bullpen to the rotation for a spot start, or it could be the promotion of top prospect Adbert Alzolay from Triple-A Iowa.

Either way, this is more bad news for Darvish, who has had a rough go of it since he signed a six-year, $126 million deal with the Cubs in February.

Between issues with the weather, the concern of arm cramps in his debut in Miami, leg cramps in Atlanta, a trip to the disabled list for the flu, trouble making it out of the fifth inning and now triceps tendinitis, it's been a forgettable two months for Darvish.

He is 1-3 with a 4.95 ERA, 1.43 WHIP and 49 strikeouts in 40 innings with the Cubs.

Over the course of 139 career starts, Darvish is 57-45 with a 3.49 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and has averaged 11 strikeouts per nine innings.