Chicago Sun-Times
with sports reporters Chris De Luca and Gordon Wittenmyer

Post-contract pressure for Cubs' Rizzo?

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CINCINNATI -- Mired in a deepening slump, without a hit since Saturday, $41-million first baseman Anthony Rizzo showed up in the clubhouse Friday with his once-curly locks suddenly straightened.

Aerodynamics? "Yeah, I'm trying to steal more bases," he cracked, smiling.

The new look did nothing to change a week-old trend for the lefty slugger, who went hitless in five more at-bats, including a strikeout, Friday night as the Cubs lost for the fifth straight game - 7-4 in Cincinnati.

It seems clear the 23-year-old kid with the new seven-year contract - less than two months into his first full season in the big leagues - is pressing.

During the Cubs' five-game skid, Rizzo, the No. 3 hitter in the order, is 0-for-22 with nine strikeouts. Before the first strikeout in that stretch, on Sunday, he had gone 39 straight at-bats without a strikeout and was on a .390 tear that had lasted more than three weeks.

"I guess we can always call it different things," manager Dale Sveum said, "but there's definitely an urgency. He's not taking his walks. He's just kind of swinging, guessing. There's a lot more movement than he normally has at the plate."

Could Rizzo benefit from a "mental day" off?

"I guess a lot of people here could use that right now," Sveum said.

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This page contains a single entry by Gordon Wittenmyer published on May 24, 2013 9:59 PM.

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