Cubs exhale: Anthony Rizzo only bruises knee
BY GORDON WITTENMYER email@example.com June 12, 2012 11:30PM
Updated: July 14, 2012 6:45AM
Anthony Rizzo was diagnosed with only a bruised knee after a collision with a fence during a game in Iowa.
Rizzo, the slugging first baseman who might be promoted by the end of the month, was hurt making a sliding attempt on a foul pop in the sixth inning against Class AAA Omaha and left the game.
The Cubs say he’s not seriously hurt, and he’s considered day-to-day.
‘‘He bumped his knee. … He’ll be OK,’’ Iowa manager Dave Bialas told the Des Moines Register.
Rizzo leads the Pacific Coast League with 22 home runs and is hitting .367.
The guy who replaces Rudy Jaramillo as the Cubs’ interim hitting coach is a former minor-league outfielder with 11 years of experience as a hitting instructor who was targeted by Cubs player development boss Jason McLeod soon after the new front office took over.
After receiving permission from the New York Yankees to interview their minor-league hitting coordinator for the same position in Chicago and talking to him during the winter meetings in December, the Cubs’ brass had ‘‘all the evidence we needed’’ to know the impressive background information it had received was valid.
‘‘He was really organized and had thorough knowledge of their hitting system,’’ team president Theo Epstein said. ‘‘He was very articulate, very engaging, showed an ability to connect with the modern player and understood the role, understood the overall hitting approach that we wanted because it’s also what he wants. It was just a good fit.’’
James Rowson, 35, said he was similarly impressed by the ‘‘vision’’ of the Cubs’ front office.
‘‘I was really sold on the direction of the organization; I was really excited,’’ he said. ‘‘We were talking about really doing some things at the minor-league level to kind of get guys at the right time going in the right direction. …
‘‘Obviously, I’m real happy to be here [at the big-league level], but at the same time, you think about a guy like Rudy. I learned a lot from him. He’s really been a class act and done a lot for the game. Hopefully, I look to be able to make half the imprint he’s made in the game.’’
Hip, hip Jorge?
Not quite yet. Epstein said it could be a week before the signing of touted Cuban outfield prospect Jorge Soler gets done and he joins the organization.
‘‘I can’t really address anything until it’s official,’’ Epstein said of the 20-year-old outfielder who agreed to a nine-year, $30 million deal.
‘‘In this case, it’s usually a process where there’s an agreement, then there’s a term sheet, then there’s an immigration process getting visas and then there’s a physical. … Sometimes that’s days, sometimes weeks. Hopefully, it’ll be around a week.’’
Epstein said a number of picks from last week’s draft have agreed to terms pending physicals, but No. 6 overall pick Albert Almora isn’t one of them.
‘‘We’ve talked briefly, but that process will hopefully pick up here in the coming days,’’ he said. Baseball’s deadline for signing draft picks is July 13.
Missouri State right-hander Pierce Johnson, a supplemental first-rounder (43rd overall), agreed to terms Monday.
◆ Catcher Geovany Soto (knee) doubled as the designated hitter for Iowa during a minor-league rehab start. He’s expected to be in the lineup defensively Wednesday.