PITTSBURGH – Quietly, painfully, Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo has been on a hard-knocks record pace amid the Cubs’ upbeat start to the season.
When Francisco Liriano hit him in the thigh with a pitch Tuesday night, Rizzo set the franchise record for getting hit by pitches in April (six), with nine days left in the month.
In 2014 he was hit 15 times all season, two short of the franchise record shared by Frank Chance (1905) and Marlon Byrd (2010).
Opponents going after the Cubs’ big lefty hitter? Not so much as the big lefty crowds the plate and opponents pitch inside to entice him into hitting to their defensive shifts.
“I don’t worry. You always have a pretty good sense about when something’s intentional or not,” manager Joe Maddon said.
But that doesn’t mean Maddon feels comfortable about the HBP pace after seeing Mike Olt suffer a broken wrist getting hit April 11.
“No, he’s not going to give any quarter right there,” said Maddon, who then cracked: “Just maybe wear a pad. Just get the Barry Bonds autographed elbow pad, something like that. I think Wal-Mart is selling them right now very inexpensively.”
Said Rizzo: “I’ll be all right.”