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Cubs star Anthony Rizzo calls for change after mass shooting at alma mater

Anthony Rizzo points his finger while in conversation on Field 1 at the Cubs Spring Training facility in Mesa, AZ. 02-12-2018. | John Antonoff / For the Sun-Times

Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo — a graduate of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., in 2007 — sent out a message pleading for “change” hours after the mass shooting at the school Wednesday.

Thursday morning, Rizzo left camp and returned to South Florida to console family and friends.

In a tweet Wednesday, Rizzo said: “Parkland and Coral Springs please stay strong! This is out of control and and our country is in desperate need for change. I hope In this darkest of times back home this brings everyone together and we can find love. You’re all in my prayers”

A former student armed with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle opened fire late in the school day Wednesday, killing at least 17 people. He was later taken into custody.

Rizzo remains a strong presence in his South Florida hometown about an hour north of Miami.

In October, Rizzo won the 2017 Roberto Clemente Award, presented to the player whose character, community involvement, philanthropy and contributions both on and off the field embody the spirit of the late Pittsburgh Pirates Hall of Famer. Rizzo was chosen from a group of 30 players representing each major-league team.

Rizzo — a cancer survivor — was nominated for the award because of his involvement  with cancer centers at the University of Miami Health System and the Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital in Hollywood, Fla., as well as with Gilda’s Club Chicago.

Several other major-leaguers, including former Cubs teammate David Ross, also sent messages via Twitter on Wednesday.