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

Rizzo's journey about more than baseball

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Anthony Rizzo's story Monday was about the lucrative seven-year, $41 million contract he signed with the Cubs, making him one of the highest paid players ever with less than a year of major league service time.
But Rizzo, 23, talked as much about the journey leading to that contract, one that most pointedly included a life-changing battle with Hodgkin's lymphoma when he was 18.
When he talked about the ``security'' the new deal means for him, it was partly with that in mind.
``Some guys like to go year to year [in arbitration],'' Rizzo said. ``I've experienced first-hand having the game taken away from me for a year.
``Not being able to play, you appreciate it more. Having this type of contract...my agents and family think it's a fair deal. Maybe we take a discount now, but it's a huge waight off my shoulders and my family's shoulders.''
Rizzo was diagnosed when he was in Class A Greenville, going on the disabled list May 1, 2008.
``Last year at this time I was in Triple A wondering when that call was going to come. Five years ago at this time, I was in a hospital waiting for my first treatment for cancer. It's crazy how everything has come full circle, and that's why I'm so grateful for my family an this front office for believing in me.''
Rizzo privately has made a habit of visiting Children's Hospital to see young patients, especially those dealing with cancer. He said he hopes to devote more time to building his Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation as he becomes a bigger part of the Cubs and the city.
``We're big role models in this city--this country, this world,'' he said. ``We put on one of the best uniforms in all of sports. It's an honor to put on that uniform, and it's a responsibility at the same time. You have to carry yourself on the field and off the field like an ultimate pro.
``The definition of a leader is going out and doing the right thing,'' he added. ``I want to be a good teammate and get along with everyone. When you do that, everyone respects you.''
Rizzo's other goal is the same as every player who has worn the uniform.
``I say this to the guys in the clubhouse, every time we win here and they play that `Go Cubs Go' song, for me personally, I have a vision of going to the playoffs. Getting into that tournament and playing--it's a different kind of baseball.
``I think we're in the right direction. This team is a great team with a great group of guy, and we're not far off now.''

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This page contains a single entry by Toni Ginnetti published on May 13, 2013 6:42 PM.

Cubs sign Rizzo to 7-year, $41-million deal was the previous entry in this blog.

Cubs win third straight behind 8th quality start for Wood is the next entry in this blog.

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