Chicago's Most Wanted Makes Getaway
Be on the lookoput for a white Cadillac Escalade with Florida plates being driven by a young adult male with short hair who was last seen wearing dark, baggy gym shorts, a Miami Dolphins t-shirt and a wide grin.
Anthony Rizzo's last at-bat as an Iowa Cub was almost storybook. He flew deep to the warning track in right-center. I was standing directly above the player who made the catch, hoping the ball would travel a few more feet than it did so I could scamper down a flight of stairs, out a gate and retrieve it. There was no one else in the area with the same idea. Oh well. Instead I strolled around behind the Cub Club atop the leftfield wall and found the homer Josh (JV) Vitters had pounded minutes earlier hitting in front of Rizzo. When I returned from that scavenger hunt Rizzo had been lifted and the inevitable was a reality rippling through the stands.
I spent the rest of the game lying in wait outside the I-Cub clubhouse with a local TV crew and a few autograph hounds. A gopher emerged and drove off in Rizzo's car after loading it with gear. Was it a diversion? Was Rizzo being smuggled off the grounds disguised as a Zooperstar? The gopher returned about half an hour later having apparently washed the car and presumably gassed it up for the five-hour drive to the big leagues.
You'd figure the guy getting the call-up would be anxious to make his getaway. But when Rizzo finally emerged he was maybe the last of the I-Cubs to leave. By then I'd moved my car nose-to-nose with his and got to ask him something while he signed balls and caps as a Triple A'er for what we all hope is the last time. That final at-bat when he went not quite deep enough, did he know it was his last plate appearance as an I-Cub? He said no. "Honestly, I had no clue," he insisted and there's no reason to doubt him. Unless the scoreboard operator who told me Rizzo is usually all business during pregame BP and this morning he was uncharacteristically loosey-goosey, as though he knew a pleasant secret, deserves credence.
As for the game, Vitters drove in both runs in the I-Cubs' 2-1 triumph, their seventh consecutive game against Round Rock as the teams play a home-and-home of four-game series. Jay Jackson, groping for a niche as a middle reliever, fanned the side in the 8th and Rafael Dolis notched the save with a scoreless 9th.
While waiting for Rizzo and feeling like a paparazzo I watched Brett Jackson and Vitters oblige the autograph seekers. As I suspected, Jackson does not rise to his listed 6'2". His hair is as California moppy as Rizzo's is hip-hop close-cropped. Vitters seems slight up close. I've been skeptical of his potential but now that I have a piece of him, maybe I'll cut him some slack. We'll see how he does without Rizzo hitting behind him any longer. Defensively he made his 13th error today but also started a couple of DP's.
Rizzo too appears smaller in person than his prodigious numbers paint him in the mind's eye. But he's thick-legged and, one hopes, thick-skinned too. He'll need to be. Even an approximation of his deeds here won't salvage this moribund season in Chicago. But it would certainly go a long way toward making the next several more promising.
After saying all of his good-byes Rizzo climbed into his white Escalade and I got into my black Accord and followed him out of the parking lot. Our routes were the same for several blocks through downtown Des Moines. When he turned east and drove off into his much-anticipated future I turned west and headed home. Now I gotta go finish mowing the lawn. Rizzo should make Chicago by sundown. He's all yours.
Meh. He only got one hit today. Maybe give him a rest?
Good thing the Cubs have five left-handed batters in the lineup. Velasquez is just tearing thru the righties [edit - doesn't seem to faze Bryant!]
ben zobrist gets to ride up front tonight cause he's a good guy at sports.
cubs with a 5 run lead and a lackey shutout through 3ip \m/
HAGSAG: I have not seen Joe Nathan out on the field, but he is supposedly at the UAPC.
ERIC S: Best outing I've ever seen from Manny Rondon, and I've seen most of his outings since the Cubs got him from the Angels.
M. Rondon is competing with six others (Dylan Cease, Bryan Hudson, Jose Paulino, Pedro Silverio, Jesus Castillo, and Erling Moreno) for a starting slot at Eugene, and (as you can probably tell from the EXST box scores) the competition has gotten fierce over the last couple of weeks, With the exception of Moreno, the Eugene SP candidates have upped their game lately, and M. Rondon's outing yesterday was especially impressive/dominating.
E-MAN: Pierce Johnsion was mixing a 92-94 MPH fastball with a plus-change-up AND curve, and he threw strike-after-strike-after-strike with all three of his pitches. I believe that was the best command and pitch-efficiency I've ever seen from Johnson, who often pitches from behind in the count and issues too many walks.
Of course now he has to avoid a recurrence of the lat strain (whch he has had previously in his career) as well as all of the other miscellaneous physical problems he's had over the last three years (hamstring, quad, back, etc).
PHIL: Any movement on P. Johnsons pitches? What was his "out" pitch? I know he was working on a 4th pitch, so wondering what he is looking like these days. Thanks.
AZ Phil, has Nathan showed up in Mesa yet? Thanks.
Eickhoff looks like a good young pitcher. Lets steal him!
Manny Rondon faced 13 batters ... and got 10 to K. Not a bad day's work.
With several other Cubs hitters bailing out on curves today I think overall it wasn't being seen well. It for sure looked silly but a good breaking pitch coming at you and then breaking down isn't the easiest thing to see and has made many hitters look silly. Also Soler should have more walks this year but for quite a few called strikes that were actual balls and even the called strike he bailed on was borderline.
it's not like we're talking about a guy who's never had issues with pitch selection and seeing the ball over here. we're talking about a guy who has some rather legendary swing-and-misses at breaking stuff who's been exploited low. going forward it's worth paying attention to seeing if he can be exploited inside, too. he seriously bailed out of the box on a called strike. sure it was a good curve, but he obviously didn't see that well at all.
It would seem like he is figuring it out now and it's really coming together. Really happy for him. Joe was really protecting him from the 3rd time through the order, but as you allude to, he is earning trust to go deeper.
Wondering if has potential to become a #3 pitcher? His current stats certainly support it.
That doesn't count b/c CRUNCH didn't see it on his 60" HDTV 5 times in replay.
I have seen many players "bail out" when the ball looked like it was gonna hit them.
Especially with the advent of the splitter and pitchers that can really get the ball to dance. Marmol, Sutter, Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling, Derek Lowe, Smoltz, Arrietta...
These guys have made the best bail out only for the ball to come over the plate and be called a strike.
No shame in that. The same way players whiff hard enough to cause them to drill a hole in the ground from spinning.
a 60" TV with slow-motion replay and multiple looks on that replay helps...a lot...
it's one thing to shy away like he did the 2nd time, it's another to bail out of the box on a called strike. that happened in the 1st one he pulled away from. he misjudged that one by a foot or so...