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Rizzo thanks Renteria, calls Maddon hiring 'exciting news'

Cubs first baseman in Chicago to promote his 'Laugh Off for Cancer' event
MLB.com @CarrieMuskat

CHICAGO -- Anthony Rizzo made a point of reaching out to Rick Renteria shortly after he was dismissed as the Cubs manager, but also has talked with new skipper Joe Maddon and can't wait to start working with him.

Rizzo, who was in Chicago on Friday to promote his first "Laugh Off for Cancer" event Jan. 15, said the addition of Maddon was "exciting news."

CHICAGO -- Anthony Rizzo made a point of reaching out to Rick Renteria shortly after he was dismissed as the Cubs manager, but also has talked with new skipper Joe Maddon and can't wait to start working with him.

Rizzo, who was in Chicago on Friday to promote his first "Laugh Off for Cancer" event Jan. 15, said the addition of Maddon was "exciting news."

"It's obviously tough losing Rick, but it's business," Rizzo said. "With Joe, I can't wait to start working with him. Speaking with him, everything is so on point with how I view the game of baseball as well."

What did Maddon say that clicked?

"Seriously, everything," Rizzo said. "The whole philosophy of not overworking, not doing too much, and getting your work done in a professional manner is something I preach. You've got to stay fresh in this game. That's what I believe in.

Video: Muskat on whether Maddon could attract free agents

"The family style that I feel like he's going to bring will be unbelievable. I don't want to say too much because I want to get to know him more. I'm real excited from people I've talked to and have seen from afar."

Rizzo hasn't done any recruiting of free agents, including Jon Lester, who visited Wrigley Field on Tuesday.

"The best sales pitch I can give is that we're an exciting team and this is Chicago," Rizzo said.

The first baseman, who set career highs with a .286 average and 32 home runs this past season, said the Cubs do have a good foundation of "impact players" and added that bringing in outside talent can't hurt.

"If we bring the team back that we had last year, I'm confident we can win a lot more baseball games than we did last year," he said.

Video: Cubs introduce Maddon as team's new manager

The Cubs' front office has said it wants to add some veteran players to the mix and Rizzo agreed that would help.

"I think it's needed just to show some guys the ropes more, including myself -- [guys] who have been there and done it," Rizzo said. "We have a very talented group of players who we're going to put on the field next year -- there's no doubt about it. Now it's just about grooming all of us to be champions and winners and bringing in guys who have won before and have done it before can never hurt."

Renteria had hoped to be at the helm this coming season, but was dismissed in late October to make room for Maddon, who opted out of his contract with the Rays and became a free agent.

"It's tough [for Renteria], but it's also tough when a guy gets traded or released because of financial purposes or a guy gets sent down because he has an option and doesn't deserve to be sent down," Rizzo said. "It's all part of the business. No one likes to see it happen. I called and just reached out and thanked [Renteria] for everything."

And Renteria responded as Rizzo expected him to.

Video: Epstein discusses dismissal of Rick Renteria

"Rick's a great, positive person, and that's what made him a good manager," Rizzo said. "He always had our back, and he'll still have our back watching from afar."

Rizzo picked a cold weekend to visit Chicago. His foundation hosted its third "Walk Off for Cancer" last Sunday in Parkland, Fla., and raised a record $130,000. The "Laugh Off" in January will be held at American Junkie in Chicago, before the Cubs Convention. The event will feature Tom Papa, Brody Stevens and the Cubs.

Papa is a regular guest on "The Tonight Show," "Conan" and "The Late Show." Stevens of "Chelsea Lately" will serve as the evening's emcee. Cubs players will take the stage with improv actors from The Second City.

Rizzo asked his Twitter followers to send him their favorite jokes. He got a few laughs.

From @DarrenLHackler: "Two guys walk into a bar. The third one ducked."

From @UnashamedDStark: "Today a man knocked on my door and asked for a small donation towards the local swimming pool. I gave him a glass of water."

@Annalee_marie: "Did you hear about the baker whose bakery burned down? His business is toast."

Rizzo smiled when he saw the renovation work at Wrigley Field. The left- and right-field bleachers both are gone as crews build new foundations for advertising signs and video scoreboards.

"It's pretty awesome what's going on," Rizzo said. "It's pretty unique to see the field like this now. It's pretty exciting."

He'll be back in Florida next week to get back to work.

"Personally, I was happy with myself just being fairly consistent over the year and not hitting too many low points in the year as far as hitting-wise," Rizzo said of the 2014 season. "Defensively, I always want to get better. I'm not happy not winning a Gold Glove -- that's one of my goals I want to do every year is win a Gold Glove. I want to continue to get better and grow."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Chicago Cubs, Anthony Rizzo