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.