Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo finds fresh start in May; and where’s Eddie Butler?

SHARE Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo finds fresh start in May; and where’s Eddie Butler?
953562840_75964941_e1525224451186.jpg

Anthony Rizzo runs the bases after hitting a home run against the Colorado Rockies on May 1, 2018 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. | David Banks/Getty Images

Anthony Rizzo was looking for a fresh start, and that’s just what he got Tuesday against the Rockies.

On the first pitch of May, the self-proclaimed “Greatest Leadoff Hitter of All-Time” homered to left field. It was the fourth time he started a game with a home run, a Cubs record for first basemen.

Manager Joe Maddon’s decision to bat Rizzo leadoff stemmed from his time-tested treatment for a struggling hitter.

RELATED STORIES Phils’ Jake Arrieta ‘not playing around’ after betting on himself in slow winter Rizzo homers before Cubs bats lost in Gray shadow as winning streak ends

“I really thought that we needed something like a 20-foot python, a magician or a breakdancer in the clubhouse,” Maddon said. “Instead, I choose to hit Rizzo leadoff. I thought it might pick the boys up a little bit [after a] tough series against Milwaukee.

“Plus, Rizz needs to get going. A lot of times in the past, I’ve liked to do that with some of the larger players on the team, put them in the leadoff spot, let them lighten up a little bit and let them play. So we’ll see how it works out today.”

Maddon texted Rizzo on Tuesday morning about the move.

“He asked what I thought of it, and I loved it,” Rizzo said. “And he said, ‘All right, perfect, because … I already sent it in, but I knew you’d be cool with it.’ ”

Rizzo struggled for most of April. He went on the 10-day disabled list because of back pain and was an uncharacteristic 11-for-74 (.149) for the month with one home run and 15 strikeouts.

Rizzo said he wasn’t sweating his early-season hitting slump.

“It’s not the end of the world anymore,” Rizzo said. “I promise myself, I promise everyone when you go through a skid, it’s going to turn eventually.”

Bryant working his way back

Since his return from being hit on the helmet by a pitch April 22 in Denver, Kris Bryant has struggled offensively. But Maddon said he looks fine.

“I thought he looked great at the plate, the very first at-bat back,” Maddon said Monday after Bryant tripled and scored the winning run against the Rockies.

“I think he looks fine. A couple balls have been popped up, but he’s hitting them really good, if that makes any sense. And he’s been fine at third base. But I have not seen anything negative at the plate.”

Bryant was hitting .319 with a 1.003 OPS when he got hit. He has two hits in four games since returning.

He went 1-for-4 with two strikeouts Tuesday.

Where’s Butler?

Maddon didn’t have a timeline for right-hander Eddie Butler (strained right groin), who was eligible to return from the 10-day disabled list. According to Maddon, Butler hasn’t had any setbacks.

Maddon continues to rave about Butler’s replacement, Luke Farrell, who picked up his first career win Monday. Maddon has been impressed with the right-hander ever since he first saw him pitch last season. He believes Farrell, who is the son of former Red Sox manager John Farrell, has “superior makeup.”

“When you get to know [Farrell], there’s nothing to not like,” Maddon said. “Of course there’s talent. I just think he has the inter-workings of being a successful major-league player beyond talent.”

The Latest
While incarcerated on a gun conviction, Devon Harper allegedly admitted to an unrelated fatal shooting in 2020. He was arrested Friday when he was paroled from the Menard Correctional Center.
There’s a widespread belief among those close to the game that Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf won’t stand for the removal of Tony La Russa during the season. Why is that?
Third baseman Yoan Moncada could start when he’s eligible to return from the 10-day injured list. A more curious situation involves outfielder Eloy Jiménez.
The Sox (34-37) averted falling to a season-high five games below .500, which would have cast more scrutiny as they embark to the West Coast to face the Angels and Giants.
Attendees were thrilled for the annual Pride Parade’s return, but many also expressed worry and anger over the recent Supreme Court decision on abortion.