Why did Rizzo struggle in San Diego?


Why did Rizzo struggle in San Diego?

Anthony Rizzos success in the major leagues with the San Diego Padres in 2011 was short-lived.

The Cubs prospect -- who is expected to make his Chicago debut on Tuesday night -- joined the Padres last June 9 to much fanfare and got out to a fantastic start as he had three hits in seven at-bats in his first series against the Washington Nationals at Petco Park.

But from there Rizzo -- who was traded to the Cubs in a four-player deal in January -- endured struggles he later admitted were more difficult than he had previously experienced in a six-year professional career.

Whether it was Petco Park, which plays extremely tough on left-handed pull hitters like Rizzo, or a swing that got long, the first baseman never got back on track.

After he hit .365 with 16 homers in his first 52 games at Triple-A Tucson in 2011, Rizzo saw his strikeout rate increase and average dip in the majors. He struck out 46 times in 128 at-bats for the Padres and he hit .141.

Even so, Rizzo told the North County Times last September that while his confidence might have wavered, it hadnt disappeared. Rizzo, a sixth-round pick of the Boston Red Sox in the 2007 draft, said he believed the slump would make him mentally stronger for his next chance in the majors.

Ive never struggled like that, Rizzo said. I handled it the best I could. I mean theres times where I was on the verge of snapping or blowing up, but its baseball and Im not as bad as Ive showed. And I know that. I got my feet wet. I gave me good confidence up here. I belong here.

The telltale sign for Cubs general manager Jed Hoye -- then with the Padres -- was how Rizzo constantly missed pitches he had crushed at Tucson. Rizzo struggled with fastballs and ended up with only one home run for the Padres.

The Padres acquired Yonder Alonso from the Cincinnati Reds in the offseason and chose him over Rizzo because they felt Alonsos line-drive approach was better suited for Petco Park than Rizzo, who is more of a flyball hitter.

Rizzo thought the mechanics of his swing were part of the problem.

Once his swing got long, Rizzo admits his head was his own worst enemy.

I didnt see that coming at all, Rizzo said. But it happened. The big thing is instead of worrying about getting hits, youve got to see the ball and hit the ball. When I was here earlier I was so worried about, Ive got to get a hit that I forgot to see the ball. I was just trying too hard. You try harder in this game youre going to get crushed.

Ravens sign former Bears kicker Elliott Fry

Ravens sign former Bears kicker Elliott Fry

After getting released by the Bears on Aug. 18, kicker Elliott Fry has a new gig.

Sunday, the Baltimore Ravens announced that they've signed Fry.

The signing is a rather curious one for the Ravens, as incumbent kicker Justin Tucker is one of the best in the NFL. The Ravens may have just signed Fry for the remainder of the preseason, as they don't want to risk Tucker getting hurt before the regular season begins.

Fry went 1-for-2 on field goals in the preseason with the Bears (hitting from 43, missing from 47) while hitting both of the his extra point attempts. Although releasing Fry left Eddy Pineiro as the lone kicker on the Bears roster, the latter hasn't won the job just yet. 

Pineiro did convert on a 58-yard try in Saturday's game against the Colts, perhaps moving him one step closer to locking the job down.

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Cubs recall David Bote from Triple-A with Anthony Rizzo's back ailing


Cubs recall David Bote from Triple-A with Anthony Rizzo's back ailing

David Bote's minor league stint didn't last long.

After demoting the 26-year-old to Triple-A Iowa on Monday, the Cubs recalled Bote on Sunday. In a corresponding move, the team placed Derek Holland (left wrist contusion) on the 10-day injured list.

Bote's return comes on the heels of Anthony Rizzo exiting Saturday's game due to mid-back tightness. Rizzo has dealt with back issues at various points in his career, missing four games in May this season with a similar ailment. 

The Cubs activated Steve Cishek off the injured list Tuesday, with the reliever filling Bote's vacancy on the 25-man roster. Thus, the Cubs had been playing with 14 pitchers and 11 position players for much of this week. Had they not recalled Bote, they Cubs would've had to play Sunday's game with just Victor Caratini and Tony Kemp available off the bench.

A similar situation occurred Saturday, as Rizzo exited the game in the bottom of the fifth inning. To save the Cubs from running out of position players, reliever Kyle Ryan took his at-bat in the sixth inning. Although he drew a walk, Ryan was thrown out attempting to take third base on a pitch that got away from Nationals catcher Yan Gomes.

Holland was hit by a comebacker in Tuesday's game against the Giants. Him landing on the injured list leaves Ryan as the lone lefty in the Cubs bullpen. The former holds a 5.74 ERA this season in 43 overall games between the Cubs and Giants, though that number is a more respectable 4.66 in 12 appearances with the Cubs.

Bote is hitting .257/.352/.429 with 10 home runs and 40 RBIs in 106 games (268 at-bats) this season. 

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