CINCINNATI -- Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo isn’t necessarily looking forward to tying, or possibly breaking, former Cincinnati Reds outfielder Shin-Soo Choo’s April record of being hit by a pitch -- but he’ll take it if it’s given to him.
Rizzo has been hit six times already this month, just one fewer than Choo’s mark, which is the most in 100 years for April. It’s helped Rizzo’s on-base percentage, a lofty .471 heading into Friday’s game against the Reds. It’s also been painful.
“I don’t like getting hit,” Rizzo said recently. “But you get on base. If I get hit again, I get hit.”
It’s been well documented Rizzo is standing closer to the plate over the last couple of seasons. It’s helped him against left-handers as he’s been able to hit to the opposite field more, but the consequences have meant an increase in getting hit by pitches. His family wants him to seek help.
“They try to get me to wear stuff all the time,” Rizzo said. “I just don’t feel comfortable with it.”
His manager wouldn’t mind a little protection either.
“He’s not going to give any quarter there,” Joe Maddon said. “Maybe just wear a pad. Just get the Barry Bonds autographed elbow pad. Something at Walmart.”
A year or two ago, all the damage being done to Rizzo’s body may not have been worth it, but the Cubs have a potent offense now and it starts with getting on base. The middle of their order has lived up to the cliché of passing the baton from one batter to the next. Along with his six HBPs, Rizzo walked 10 times in his first 15 games.
“I just need to get on base,” Rizzo said. “That’s the beauty of what we’re creating here.”
If you’re wondering, no one thinks any of this is intentional. Rizzo is crowding the plate so he’s getting hit more. Simple as that. As much as it hurts Rizzo, it benefits the Cubs -- as long as there are no serious injuries as a result, of course.
“It happens and sometimes it’s the style of the hitter more than the pitcher,” Maddon said. “You always have a pretty good sense if it was intentional or not.”
In this case, it’s all the hitter.
“I got pitched inside last year too,” Rizzo said. “They hit me then too. I’m fine with it.”