Before the Chicago Cubs took on the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday afternoon in Las Vegas, first baseman Anthony Rizzo made an unusual request of bench coach Dave Martinez.
The slugger asked if he could bat in the lead-off position in the game. Martinez agreed, and Rizzo immediately made him look like a genius by slugging a home run over the right field wall on the first pitch he saw:
.@ARizzo44 can hit leadoff whenever he wants. https://t.co/n9CHgLzFe6#Crushedpic.twitter.com/OSE6163eSX
— MLB (@MLB) March 26, 2017
In the initial lineup released by the team, the Cubs were going to have Kyle Schwarber bat first, which is something the team has planned to do all spring long. After Rizzo’s request, he and Schwarber flipped spots, with Rizzo occupying the lead-off role and Schwarber batting third:
Only reason for Rizzo leading off over Schwarber is that Riz wanted to. #Cubs
— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) March 26, 2017
That wasn’t the only offense that the Cubs were able to generate in the inning either. Kris Bryant slugged a double and Schwarber coaxed a walk, and then Albert Almora unloaded on a three-run home run to give the Cubs a 4-0 lead before the Reds were even able to record an out in the game.
When the regular season begins next week, the plan for the Cubs initially is to have Schwarber bat in the lead-off position, with Jon Jay taking over the job at times as well as the Cubs look for the long-term replacement for Dexter Fowler in the lineup’s top spot.
Published at 3:51 PM CDT on Mar 26, 2017