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Cubs getting close to calling up Anthony Rizzo from Triple-A

May 21, 2012, 4:16 PM EDT

Brett Jackson AP

Anthony Rizzo flopped in a 49-game debut with the Padres last year, but he’s now crushing Triple-A pitching for the second straight season and the Cubs are starting to think about calling him up.

Rizzo, whom the Cubs acquired from the Padres for Andrew Cashner in January, is hitting .346 with 14 homers and a 1.106 OPS in 41 games at Triple-A after hitting .331 with 26 homers and a 1.056 OPS in 93 games at Triple-A last season.

In other words, there isn’t much left for the 22-year-old to prove in the minors at this point.

One issue is that Rizzo is a first baseman and Cubs first baseman Bryan LaHair has been one of the league’s best hitters so far. LaHair also has some experience in left field and told Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago that he’d be fine switching positions to make room in the lineup, although the Cubs have Alfonso Soriano and his giant contract there right now.

According to Levine no one has approached LaHair about a position switch yet and he hasn’t been getting any work in the outfield, which suggests a move isn’t imminent. It would seemingly make sense to promote Rizzo for the interleague series in Minnesota that begins on June 8, as that would allow the Cubs to use the designated hitter before deciding whether they want to shift LaHair to the outfield full time.

Meanwhile, manager Dave Sveum admitted that calling up Rizzo “is definitely going to be talked about” because “he’s done everything he can down there.”

  1. bigleagues - May 21, 2012 at 4:34 PM

    Sveum also added that when Rizzo gets called up, he’s getting called up to be the starting 1B.

    And I agree, I think on or around June 8th sounds about right. LaHair DH’s as he prepares to play a corner OF spot.

    And just a few weeks ago LaHair was openly lobbying for Rizzo’s promotion and stating that he’d happily move to the outfield to make that happen.

  2. trevorb06 - May 21, 2012 at 4:59 PM

    It wouldn’t surprise me if LaHair gets traded to help restock that farm system while his stock is thru the roof. Many people think LaHair is playing way above his head, I’m thinking the same. Granted, there is a chance LaHair could totally pull a Jose Bautista and become a very pleasant surprise for the rest of his career.

    • derklempner - May 22, 2012 at 12:42 AM

      Not sure why you had four thumbs-downs, as I was thinking the same thing myself. LaHair will be perfect trade bait for an NL team (like the Phillies with Howard still out indefinitely, or the Pirates with their constant turnover of talent) looking for a VERY inexpensive fill-in at 1B with some major league experience and recent success.

      On the other hand, I’d be sad to see LaHair leave the Cubs, but that’s the nature of the business and the S.O.P. of a team in “rebuilding mode”. (Yes, Theo, we know it’s not “rebuilding” but just “building”.)

  3. Alex K - May 21, 2012 at 5:03 PM

    I wonder what they would do with Soriano if they called up Rizzo. I don’t think they would DFA him. I also don’t think anyone is going to take him no matter how much the Cubs pay of his salary.

    • brewcrewfan54 - May 21, 2012 at 11:29 PM

      With that much money and years left on that contract there’s no way in hell they DFA him.

  4. redneckrick - May 21, 2012 at 5:42 PM

    I honestly think Soriano would do well in the AL, a 4th OF/DH kinda guy. Like what Andruw Jones does for the Yankees. It’d probably keep his legs injury free.

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