Anthony Rizzo wants Cubs to play spoiler
BY GORDON WITTENMYER firstname.lastname@example.org August 14, 2013 8:39PM
Updated: August 14, 2013 10:25PM
Anthony Rizzo isn’t looking at the final six weeks of this season with any eye toward next year.
“I don’t buy into the carryover thing,” said the Cubs’ No. 3 hitter, who lost at least one hit Wednesday hitting into a defensive shift and saw his average fall to a 3½-month low of .232.
He said the final weeks are mostly about this for him and the rest of the lineup: “It’s time we step up as a team and start supporting our starting [pitching] staff.”
If they can do that, the final weeks take on even more meaning, he said.
“It’s definitely important. We’ve got to play these games hard,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of good teams coming up that we’re playing.”
The Cubs face would-be contenders in 10 of their next 13 games and 16 of their final 20.
“We want to spoil some of their hopes of going to the playoffs and make it interesting,” he said. “We can be a big part of making this division interesting.”
Of the Cubs’ final 42 games, seven are against division-leading Pittsburgh, six against wild-card-leading St. Louis and three against No. 2 wild-card leader Cincinnati.
One reason manager Dale Sveum said he moved swingman Carlos Villanueva to the bullpen with Jake Arrieta joining the rotation Friday was because he believes Villanueva can help reclaim some of the middle-inning stability lost with Matt Guerrier’s elbow injury.
◆ Guerrier was awaiting a second opinion from Cincinnati orthopedist Tim Kremcheck on what appears to be a muscle tear that will require surgery. It could sideline him six to eight months, he said.
◆ The Cubs shuffled the rotation slightly to assure left-hander Travis Wood doesn’t miss the series next week against Washington. Wood now follows Arrieta on Saturday, with Edwin Jackson going Sunday.
◆ Darnell McDonald’s single up the middle in the seventh was his first big-league hit since June 27, 2012, with Boston.
◆ The Cubs have been shut out in four of their last five home games and are a season-worst 16 games under .500.
◆ Struggling Starlin Castro got his third day off from the starting lineup this season, his second in 11 days.