Rizzo nominated for Clemente award

MILWAUKEE – Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo has been nominated for the Roberto Clemente award, given out annually to the player that best exemplifies the game of baseball through sportsmanship and community involvement.

In 2012, Rizzo started the Rizzo Family Foundation, which benefits cancer research and those affected by the disease.

“It’s an honor,” Rizzo said of his nomination Monday afternoon. “It really is, especially with everything he [Clemente] established himself coming up when he came up. To give back like he did.”

Clemente died in a plane crash in 1972 while traveling to deliver supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua. Rizzo is one of 30 finalists -- one from each team -- nominated for the award. The winner will be announced at the World Series.

“For everyone that’s won that award, it’s a pretty prestigious list,” Rizzo said. “Just to be nominated for it this early in my career is really cool. Hopefully, I can continue to do it every year.”

Past winners include Derek Jeter, Albert Pujols, David Ortiz and last season’s winner, Clayton Kershaw. Rizzo’s foundation has already held several events to benefit cancer research, including a “Cook-Off for Cancer” last month in Chicago.

“It doesn’t matter what you do on the field. It’s off the field that really describes you as a person,” Rizzo stated. “The numbers are going to be the numbers. It’s really how you impact people off the field.”

Rizzo said he wants to be mentioned among the people that do “these kinds of things” every year and reiterated his commitment to helping others as often as possible.

“It’s something I like to do throughout the entire year,” he said.

Rizzo is in his first full season with the Cubs and signed a 7-year, $41 million contract in May. He’s hitting .229 with 22 home runs and 75 RBI.