Anthony Rizzo volunteered to bat leadoff, then homered into oblivion on the first pitch he saw
It has been a long time since Anthony Rizzo batted leadoff. He has never started a single game in the Majors or the Minors there, but on Sunday afternoon, Rizzo wanted to get his at-bats in early since he didn't play at all the previous day. So he asked to switch with Kyle Schwarber and bat first while the Cubs faced the Reds. It's certainly not a unique request from a veteran in Spring Training. If Rizzo felt any kind of unfamiliarity leading off a ballgame instead of batting third or fourth, it was not at all apparent. On the very first pitch he saw from Tim Adleman, he unloaded and sent the offering deep into the afternoon Las Vegas sky.
Based on the video, it's unclear if it even landed. Search mission groups are out. Although it was Rizzo's only hit, it sparked the Cubs to a six-run first in a monster explosion against Cincinnati pitching. The only time Rizzo has even appeared in the leadoff spot in an MLB game was way back in his rookie days with the San Diego Padres, on Sept. 13, 2011. Rizzo pinch-hit for reliever Anthony Bass in an extra-inning game against the Giants, and Ramon Ramirez struck him out. The Giants ended up winning it on a walk-off single by Mark DeRosa against Brad Brach. Rizzo is a superstar, Ramirez hasn't thrown a Major League pitch in almost three years, DeRosa is an MLB Network analyst, and Brach is an All-Star reliever in Baltimore. Different times. Regardless of his lack of experience, it sure seems like Rizzo is capable of handling the leadoff spot should Joe Maddon's whims ever place him there. It wouldn't be traditional, but the Cubs' World Series opponents last year used Carlos Santana in the leadoff spot quite often. He rewarded them 19 of his 34 homers as the leadof man. So hey, why not? Rizzo can do it all.