08/06/12 10:30 PM ET
Heart of the order producing
By Chelsea Janes / MLB.com
Rizzo reflects on time in San Diego
SAN DIEGO -- The last time the Cubs' Anthony Rizzo was in uniform at Petco Park, he was playing first base in a game between the Padres and the Cubs on Sept. 28, 2011. The 22-year-old, then with the Padres, went 0-for-3 in what turned out to be his last game of the season to finish a disappointing first taste of Major League action with a .141 batting average in 128 at-bats.Flash forward to Monday, when Rizzo returned to Petco, playing first base in a Cubs-Padres game, though this time in Cubs colors. But more has changed than the jersey for the man named the National League's Rookie of the Month in July. Rizzo has a shorter swing, a high average and has sustained the success he simply could not find in San Diego. "The ballpark could've been a T-ball field and I wouldn't have hit a ball," Rizzo said. "I just wasn't hitting the ball. I was not hitting the fastball -- or pretty much anything." Rizzo owns a .310 average and nine home runs in 33 games with the Cubs. He hit .330 with seven home runs in 97 July at-bats and had the go-ahead hit in his Cubs' debut on June 28 to endear himself to the Wrigley Field faithful. That kind of early success was something that eluded Rizzo when he was called up to the Padres, though he says having that experience in San Diego readied him to do better the second time around. "The first time around here was crazy and it was a lot to take in. ... [It] obviously didn't go the way I wanted to," Rizzo said. "I was prepared more this time coming up, took things with a grain of salt and was more anxious to get on the field than anything." Rizzo was traded this offseason for pitcher Andrew Cashner, who is currently on the disabled list with a strained right lat muscle. While Rizzo says he treasures the opportunity to play in front of the fans at Wrigley, he had mixed feelings about the trade. "I made a lot of relationships here with the Padres," Rizzo said. "I was very grateful to be here; I loved playing here." "[The Cubs] gave up Andrew Cashner, who is a very good pitcher, it's an honor to be traded for him," Rizzo added, "especially after my stint last year."
Bass, Cashner ditching 'Breakfast Club'
SAN DIEGO -- Injured Padres pitchers Anthony Bass and Andrew Cashner were both in the clubhouse before Monday's series opener against the Cubs, after spending much of the past few weeks with the Padres' infamous "Breakfast Club," the group of injured players so numerous that they had to come in early in the mornings to get work in before the rest of the healthy roster came in to prepare for games.That Bass and Cashner were afternoon arrivals is a sure sign of progress for the hurlers, who played catch before Monday's game and are scheduled for bullpen sessions Wednesday. Manager Bud Black called to Bass as he left the field after throwing to ask how the session went. Smiling, Bass replied "Pain free. ... I've graduated from the Breakfast Club!" Cashner felt the same way. "Felt good," Cashner said. "Getting to be around baseball again, getting to see everyone, it's been good." Cashner's return to afternoon baseball with the Padres corresponds to the Petco Park return of the man he was acquired for, Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo. In his first season with the Padres, Cashner is 3-3 with a 3.44 ERA in 30 games (three starts), and was stretching into a starter after a stint in the bullpen before he landed on the DL on July 4 with a strained right lat. Bass is on the DL retroactive to June 21 with right shoulder inflammation. He, like Cashner, was stretched into a starter this season after a 2011 campaign spent predominantly in the San Diego bullpen. He is 2-7 with a 4.70 ERA in 16 games (14 starts) in 2012. According to Black, Monday was a good step for both as they look to return to the club before the end of the season. "[Padres pitching coach Darren Balsley] mentioned that both those guys looked very good," Black said. "He said they both threw the ball free and easy." Black added that if Wednesday's bullpen sessions go well, there is a good chance that both Bass and Cashner could be headed to Peoria, Ariz., to join the Padres' Arizona League affiliate.
Chelsea Janes is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.