Rizzo overlooked early in All-Star voting; Cubs release Jose Veras
BY GORDON WITTENMYER Staff Reporter June 10, 2014 11:38PM
Updated: July 12, 2014 6:43AM
PITTSBURGH — With nearly a month to go before All-Star rosters are announced, is Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo already getting snubbed?
Rizzo added Tuesday to what already has taken on the look of an All-Star résumé with a two-run home run and two doubles in the Cubs’ 7-3 victory over the Pirates at PNC Park.
Rizzo is second in the National League in walks, and he’s tied with Arizona’s Paul Goldschmidt for the home-run lead (13) among NL first basemen. He leads his position in the league in on-base percentage (.406) and is second only to Goldschmidt in slugging (.514) and OPS (.920).
And yet Rizzo doesn’t make MLB’s just-released, five-deep leaderboard in fan voting at first base.
“When you’re growing up, that’s one of the things you dream of, being an All-Star,” said Rizzo, whose 36 RBI lead the Cubs. “It’s still a ways away, so I’ll just keep my head down until the All-Star break comes. If I make it, it’s going to be great. If not, I’ll take the time off.”
Manager Rick Renteria, who counts Rizzo among his All-Star candidates, has said he’ll lobby for his guys, including pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel. The Cubs have had only the mandatory single selection five of the last six years.
“I’m just going to keep playing my game and not let it affect me,” said Rizzo, who has been especially good against lefties (.344, five homers after his first-inning shot against Francisco Liriano). “If I get in great; if not, next year.”
Deal close with top pick
As expected, the Cubs have moved quickly to sign their top pick from last week’s draft, with an announcement expected Wednesday. Indiana University catcher Kyle Schwarber has been in Chicago the last few days. His deal is expected to include a below-slot bonus of roughly $3 million.
The lefty-hitting slugger was selected fourth overall in part because of a willingness to sign below the $4.6 million assigned for that slot in the Cubs’ allotted bonus pool — allowing the Cubs to draft more aggressively for tougher signings later in the draft.
He’s expected to start his career with short-season Class A Boise, which opens its season Friday.
Also, sources confirm that third-round pick Mark Zagunis, another college catcher, is close to finalizing an agreement on a deal that includes a below-slot $615,000 bonus.
Book closed on closer
The Cubs officially released $4 million reliever Jose Veras, a week after designating him for assignment.
Veras was the Cubs’ second-biggest free agent of the offseason (behind $6 million flip guy Hammel) and opened the season as the closer before losing the job just two weeks in.
Veras, who pitched in the playoffs for the Tigers last year, was ineffective from the start of spring training. In 12 appearances, he gave up 11 walks and 12 hits with an 8.10 ERA and blown saves in his only two chances.