Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo to fans: Stay active, keep your distance but stay connected

Anthony Rizzo had some words of encouragement and advice for fans, who are missing out on Opening Day.

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Anthony Rizzo urges baseball fans to remain connected ... at a distance.

Anthony Rizzo urges baseball fans to remain connected ... at a distance.

John Antonoff/For the Sun-Times

Anthony Rizzo had some words of encouragement and advice for fans missing out on Opening Day:

Stay active. Make the most of the downtime caused by the coronavirus. Exercise your body and your brain. Get into a routine. Don’t waste your time.

“We were supposed to be flying out from spring training, all excited for the start of a new season and on the plane to Milwaukee for Opening Day,” the Cubs first baseman wrote in an essay for ESPN. “As the weeks go on, all of us are going to be missing baseball more and more. I miss playing already. I miss being around the guys. It’s why I believe you have to keep your brain moving in some way.”

Rizzo acknowledged the “strange time” everyone from athletes to fans to young people and old are experiencing in these days of an unprecedented pandemic and social distancing. He emphasized the importance of staying apart, especially for the elderly. In the meantime, stay in touch, he said.

“The more all of us can stay connected to others, the better we all are,” he wrote. “Whether you are a professional athlete or a fan, just trying to stay positive right now, it is so important to keep moving any way you can.

“You can be in your living room, doing pushups and situps. Maybe you don’t work out. Just do something to stay active as a way of not just falling into a hole because it’s very easy to do that.”

Rizzo said he’s in numerous group texts with teammates and friends.

“That’s all you can do, especially in the big cities. I’m lucky right now I’m in my backyard so I can move around a little bit, but it’s safer to be in isolation. This is everyone’s opportunity to be a hero by staying away.”

Rizzo said his Family Foundation has been sending meals to health care workers at Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago and Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital in Florida and will send them to other hospitals directly linked to the coronavirus treatment as well.

“We’re just trying to spread the love and keep encouraging our doctors, nurses and other health care professionals who are in the thick of this thing,” he wrote. “What they’re doing is amazing. I keep thinking about them. Supporting people is so important. And checking in on people is huge. Being alone is not easy.”

Rizzo is on Florida and will be trying to stay in baseball shape, he said.

“It’s going to be really strange missing Opening Day,” he wrote. “There’s nothing like Opening Day at Wrigley Field. That should have been next week. It’s a strange time not to be at the park with my teammates and the fans. We all miss it, but we’re hopeful there will still be one. We just have to wait and stay healthy right now. I hope that for everyone.”

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