Anthony Rizzo builds his case for Final Vote
BY GORDON WITTENMYER Staff Reporter July 7, 2014 10:27PM
Updated: July 7, 2014 11:33PM
CINCINNATI — Having just missed outright selection to the All-Star team, Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo took matters into his own hands to gain attention for Final Vote support Monday night, driving a two-run homer over right-fielder Skip Schumaker’s leaping attempt and appearing to knock in another run on a shot past first that was ruled an error.
It wasn’t enough to overcome the Reds, who beat the Cubs 9-3 in the opener of a rain-created five-game series.
But was it enough to help his cause to join teammate Starlin Castro in Minneapolis next week for his first All-Star game?
“It won’t hurt,” Rizzo said. “Whatever happens this week, it’s on our fans, so it definitely won’t hurt.”
Rizzo, whose 18 homers are tied for second in the National League, has until Thursday to make his case to voters who will decide who gets the final NL roster spot among Rizzo and four others. Online voting (cubs.com/vote) and text voting (“N4” to 89269) closes at 3 p.m., followed by an announcement of the winner later in the day.
“It’s an honor to come down to the wire like this. It’ll be fun,” he said. “I’ll sign a few more autographs [this week] to get put in there, for sure.”
The Cubs quickly initiated their campaign to help make Rizzo the first Cub to win the Final Vote balloting in the 13 years it’s been part of the selection process. He’s one of three Cubs to make one of the five-man ballots (also Aramis Ramirez in 2004, Carlos Zambrano in 2007).
He is paired with Detroit Tigers pitcher Rick Porcello in a joint campaign heavy on Facebook and Twitter promotion, and Rizzo joined teammates in a handful of video plugs to air during game broadcasts all week.
The Cubs also have reached out to celebrity fans and team alumni for endorsements.
“Hey, everybody better be voting for Rizzo,” manager Rick Renteria said.
Edwin Jackson settled down after a quick first-inning run Monday to retire 13 consecutive batters, but trouble in the fifth and sixth tagged him with his 13th non-quality start in 18 outings this season.
◆ For those looking ahead, the 2012 Cubs were 43-58 (.426) before trading 40 percent of their rotation in July and 18-43 (.295) the rest of the season. The 2013 Cubs were 43-53 (.448) before, 23-43 (.348) after. This year, they were 38-46 (.452) before the trade and are 0-3 after.
◆ Reliever Kyuji Fujikawa started a minor-league rehab assignment at rookie-level Mesa on Sunday. The $9.5 million Japanese free agent had most of last season and half of this one wiped out by Tommy John surgery. He is under contract through this year.
◆ Leadoff man Emilio Bonifacio still is doing conditioning work as he recovers from a nearly month-old oblique injury. Renteria said Bonifacio might start a rehab assignment soon after the All-Star break.
◆ The Cubs announced the signing of sixth-round draft pick Dylan Cease, a right-hander who got an over-slot $1.5 million bonus. The Cubs have their top 22 picks under contract and 26 overall.