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Anthony Rizzo at center of fracas before NL All-Star selection

Updated: August 12, 2014 6:37AM



CINCINNATI — Just when it looked like the longest road trip of the season couldn’t pack any more emotion for the Cubs, along came a benches-clearing incident with the Cincinnati Reds and a postgame All-Star announcement Thursday.

With Anthony Rizzo at the center of both.

‘‘Just trying to be a good teammate, trying to stick up for my teammates,’’ said Rizzo, who dropped the gloves — well, his first baseman’s glove, anyway — and stalked toward the Reds’ dugout in the bottom of the ninth inning, triggering a flow of players onto the field from both benches.

No punches were thrown, and order eventually was restored without injury after some pushing and shoving. In fact, Reds starter Johnny Cueto — a noted on-field brawler — actually played peacekeeper.

The Cubs went on to snap a six-game losing streak by defeating the Reds 6-4 in 12 innings. Afterward, Rizzo was informed he had been voted into the final spot on the
National League All-Star team.

‘‘It’s awesome,’’ said Rizzo, who joined shortstop Starlin Castro and since-traded right-hander Jeff Samardzija among three Cubs All-Stars. ‘‘To find out [after] a win couldn’t be better.’’

Of course, it wasn’t that easy. Nothing was for the Cubs on this high-emotion day.

‘‘This whole week,’’ said Rizzo, who joined teammates at the rail of the dugout to yell at Reds closer
Aroldis Chapman for buzzing Cubs hitters Nate Schierholtz and John Baker up and in with 100 mph fastballs in the ninth, then staring down the Cubs’ dugout between
the at-bats.

‘‘That’s a dangerous proposition,’’ Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. ‘‘He of all people should know after taking a ball off the face with a line drive [this spring]. . . . Fortunately, nobody was hurt and we got through it.’’

Not before a few more fireworks to close an 11-game trip that already had featured a blockbuster trade July 4. And not before Rizzo and the Cubs threatened to fight back.

‘‘You hope that’s not intentional,’’ Rizzo said of Chapman’s high-and-tight approach, ‘‘because that’s someone’s life. Most people up here have families. But you never think someone’s trying to throw inside on purpose.’’

That didn’t stop the Cubs from getting riled — or the Reds from responding from the first-base dugout when Rizzo took his position in the bottom of the inning.

According to one witness, Reds right-hander Mat Latos triggered Rizzo’s reaction by yelling, ‘‘Shut up and play some [bleeping] ball,’’ at him.

That’s when Rizzo turned and dropped his glove, threw down his hat and marched toward the Reds’ dugout, where he was intercepted by right-hander Alfredo Simon.

Nobody was ejected. Eventually, Luis Valbuena tripled off Skip Schumaker’s glove near the wall in right field to drive home two runs in the 12th as the Cubs salvaged a 5-6 record on their three-city trip.

‘‘Tempers flared; it happens,’’ said Rizzo, who suggested some of the emotions resulted from frustration over a winless week after the trades of Samardzija and fellow right-hander Jason Hammel. ‘‘We’re all men competing at the highest level, and tempers are
going to flare sometimes.’’

Coincidentally, Chapman and Cueto are among four Reds who will be joining Rizzo and Castro for the All-Star Game on Tuesday in Minneapolis.

‘‘It’d be nice to be their teammates next week, and we can joke about it,’’ Rizzo said.

Email: gwittenmyer@suntimes.com

Twitter: @GDubCub



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