Anthony Rizzo likely will make Cubs debut tonight or Tuesday against Mets
BY GORDON WITTENMYER firstname.lastname@example.org June 24, 2012 8:52PM
First baseman Anthony Rizzo likely will make his Cubs debut tonight against Johan Santana or Tuesday against Dillon Gee. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
Mets at Cubs
The facts: 7:05, CSN+, 720-AM.
The pitchers: Johan Santana
(5-3, 3.00 ERA) vs. Travis Wood (1-3, 4.14).
The rest of the series
Tuesday: 7:05 p.m., Ch. 26, 720-AM. Dillon Gee (5-5, 4.27) vs. Randy Wells (1-2, 4.91).
Wednesday: 1:20 p.m., CSN, 720-AM. Jonathon Niese
(5-3, 3.75) vs. Jeff Samardzija (5-6, 4.34).
Updated: July 26, 2012 6:22AM
PHOENIX — Whether first-base prospect Anthony Rizzo makes his Cubs debut Monday or Tuesday against the New York Mets seems to be the only debate left.
Will the Cubs wait until the matchup Tuesday against right-hander Dillon Gee or start the left-handed slugger off Monday against two-time Cy Young Award-winning lefty Johan Santana?
The sooner the better, outfielder Alfonso Soriano said Sunday.
‘‘People say lefties hit better against Johan Santana, so let’s see,’’ Soriano said. ‘‘I hope they bring him soon and he does the same job that he’s doing in the minor leagues. He’s got the talent.’’
Manager Dale Sveum just wants another option for his lineup whenever he can get him. And he has been working on different lineups to see where Rizzo might fit in the Cubs’ order.
‘‘It’d be nice to have somebody [who’s a threat] hitting behind him, too,’’ Sveum said. ‘‘Whenever you have somebody with that much hype and that much ability, I think it always helps to at least have somebody hitting behind him.’’
That might mean trying to find a way to put Soriano behind him or batting him fifth or sixth with catcher Geovany Soto behind him.
Soto, who was the Pacific Coast League player of the year in 2007 before becoming the National League Rookie of the Year in 2008, said he identifies with the hype and expectations Rizzo will face upon his arrival at Wrighley Field.
‘‘I feel as long as you keep working hard and stay in your lane, I think he’ll be all right,’’ Soto said.
Players and staff who spent time with Rizzo in spring training, after he was acquired from the San Diego Padres during the winter, say they don’t expect that to be a problem.
‘‘Hopefully he comes up and can be the same player, be the same person, have the same mentality,’’ said Bryan LaHair, who will move from first base to the outfield to make room for Rizzo. ‘‘Just be himself. And just continue to do what he’s doing.’’
NOTES: The Cubs fell to 3-16 when facing a left-handed starter, with Wade Miley (9-3) matching his season high with eight innings pitched in the Arizona Diamondbacks’ 5-1 victory Sunday. The Cubs expect to see four left-handed starters in the next six games against the Mets (Santana, Jonathon Niese) and Houston Astros (Wandy Rodriguez, J.A. Happ).
† Left-hander Travis Wood is scheduled to face a Cy Young winner for the third consecutive start Monday. He’s 1-1 with a 2.84 ERA in 122/3 innings against the first two, losing to the Detroit Tigers’ Justin Verlander before beating the White Sox’ Jake Peavy.
† What’s holding back top outfield prospect Brett Jackson? His 105 strikeouts are the third-most in pro baseball, behind only Astros Class A prospect Telvin Nash (120) and Sox slugger Adam Dunn (115).
† All 14 of Alfonso Soriano’s home runs, including one Sunday, have come in the Cubs’ last 37 games. No one in the NL has hit more homers since May 15.