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Cubs’ Rizzo looks forward to Cincinnati after 3-for-20 start to season

MIAMI — He started Thursday with a home run in the Cubs’ Opening Day victory in front of hometown fans, family, close friends and a close-knit community still grief-stricken by recent tragedy.

But Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo left Miami on Sunday after a mostly tough weekend at the plate — and an even more taxing weekend emotionally.

‘‘Obviously, the emotions, but I’ve handled a lot of stuff off the field, and you separate it,’’ said Rizzo, who spent the last week staying at home in Parkland, Florida, and taking time at the ballpark to host families and victims of the shooting Feb. 14 at Stoneman Douglas High, his alma mater.

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Anthony Rizzo is hit by a pitch in the fifth inning Sunday against the Marlins. Wilfredo Lee/AP

‘‘Obviously, this is a little different. I love coming and playing here. You get to come and stay at home. It’s unbelievable; I love it. I also love leaving.’’

Rizzo was 1-for-3 and was hit by a pitch Sunday, bringing his series totals to 3-for-20 with a walk and two hit-by-pitches.

The series opener Monday in Cincinnati figures to be a fresh start for Rizzo, even if he doesn’t necessarily see it that way.

‘‘Obviously, with everything that happened . . . it’s good to get on and go to Cincinnati,’’ he said.


Although the Cubs’ rotation struggled during an uneven four-game split against the low-budget Marlins, the bullpen exceeded any expectations the team might have had opening the season.

In a series that featured two extra-inning games, including one of 17 innings Friday, the Cubs’ renovated, deepened bullpen pitched 24 innings. The eight-man crew allowed two runs (0.75 ERA).

‘‘I don’t ever remember having to do this,’’ manager Joe Maddon said of stretching and mixing-and-matching relievers to such a degree this early in a season. ‘‘But our bullpen has risen to the occasion. The bullpen’s been the superstar in the whole series.’’

Series darlin’ Starlin

Marlins second baseman Starlin Castro, a former All-Star shortstop with the Cubs, went 5-for-17 in the four-game series. That included a run-scoring single in the Marlins’ victory Friday and a two-run single in the Cubs’ victory Saturday.

And this might be the stat of the series: Castro drew five walks, the same number he drew in his last 58 games with the Cubs in 2015 — and two of those in ’15 were intentional.

Castro said he was surprised the Yankees traded him to the Marlins in the Giancarlo Stanton deal after they finished one game short of the World Series last season, but he said: ‘‘I don’t really put it in my mind. The only thing I can control is coming here every day and playing hard. That’s baseball.’’

Yu gotta be kidding

According to ESPN, in his Cubs debut Saturday, right-hander Yu Darvish threw at least 100 pitches without finishing five innings for only the second time in his career. He was pulled at 102 pitches after allowing five runs in 4 1/3 innings.