When all else fails, know that Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon will always choose fun.
And that’s how it came to be that first baseman Anthony Rizzo — ahem, left-handed first baseman Anthony Rizzo — was the Cubs’ third baseman for an inning on Tuesday night. Usual third baseman Kris Bryant left Chicago’s game with Cincinnati Reds in the top of ninth inning when he was hit in the wrist by a pitch.
The Cubs had a short bench and a 13-6 lead, so Maddon figured putting Rizzo at third base was his best move, baseball convention be damned. It was either him or catcher Alex Avila, so Maddon opted for Rizzo. (They’d eventually win the game 13-9).
So Maddon: “It was either Avila at third which is no fun. Or Rizzo at third, Avila at first, which is fun."
— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) August 23, 2017
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) August 23, 2017
Rizzo became the first left-handed thrower to play third base in the majors since Mario Valdez of the Chicago White Sox on July 2, 1997. Yep, more than 20 years. He also became the first lefty to play first, second and third base in the same season since 1908 — and phew, 1908 might have been a bad omen for the Cubs if not for that long-awaited World Series win last year.
#Cubs Anthony Rizzo is the first left handed thrower to play first, second, and third in the same season since Hal Chase in 1908.
— Jeremy Frank (@MLBRandomStats) August 23, 2017
Rizzo has already had a peculiar season. Or maybe an awesome season, depending on your point of view. He was moved to the lead-off spot in the lineup when the Cubs were having trouble there. Again, that’s not a place you usually put your first baseman.
But Rizzo found success there too. In 13 games leading off for the Cubs, he hit five homers with a .306 average. Three of those homers led off the game.
Rizzo’s Twitter bio celebrates that he’s the “first baseman/second baseman” for the Cubs and after the game, Bryant — on whom X-rays were negative — said Rizzo was probably going to add “third baseman” to his Twitter bio next.
It’s always something with Joe Maddon and Cubs, huh?
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