Anthony Rizzo’s mindset entering the 2021 Cubs season
Regardless of the résumés of the players or the numbers on the back of their baseball cards, Anthony Rizzo knows nothing will be handed to the Cubs this season.
Monday marked an important day in the new year with the Cubs holding their first full-squad workout and Rizzo carries a chip on his shoulder as he looks at the season ahead.
“I think we gotta go out and earn it and prove it,” Rizzo said. “I don’t think anyone should believe in it. We haven’t done what we were capable of doing the last few years.”
Rizzo and the Cubs are owning up to that and taking the steps to prove that they belong among the cream of the crop in the NL Central.
“It’s up to us to go out and prove it every day, every year,” Rizzo said. “Just ‘cause you do one thing one year doesn’t mean you’re entitled to anything the next year.”
So how does Rizzo get back to “proving it”? It starts by going back to the foundation of why he plays this game and who he admired as he was growing up.
“I always looked up to Miguel Cabrera – every single year, year in and year out, he would just do it and do it and keep doing it and put up the same numbers, put up the monster numbers,” Rizzo said.
He’s seen that in the first few days of camp. Rizzo and the rest of the Cubs are ready to prove that their 2020 offensive numbers were a fluke and not indicative of who they are. And they’re ready to work for that.
“Let’s go out and have fun and prove [it],” Rizzo said. “Being as experienced with all the outside noise as all of us are, you can either choose to read into everything that’s written or not. But we control the narrative in here.
“We control how we go about our business every day. I know it’s the first day and you’re gonna hear this from around the league, but guys are locked in today. It’s an exciting feeling when you see that.”
For David Ross, he’s going to make sure he uses his experiences as a player and what he learned in his first year managing to help those players who struggled in 2020 unlock their full potential in 2021.
“The message from me to each individual guy is get back to being themselves,” Ross said.
That starts with allowing the players to be a little greedier.
“I think sometimes selfishness in this game can be a good thing,” Ross said. “We always talk about it being bad. You can get your numbers and still play team baseball.”
And if the Cubs do that, it could be a fruitful 2021.
“[If] these guys really do go out and perform to their capabilities, we’re gonna be just fine,” Ross said. “How that process takes shape is something I’ve thought long and hard about and I think it’s something we should be better at.”
For Rizzo in the last year of a contract, leaving it all on the field will leave him satisfied, regardless of how things play out.
“Legacy-wise, I just want to go out and continue to have that big smile and play the game hard,” Rizzo said. “That’s all you can do every day. At the end of this year, I’ll look back with no regrets. Every day, you just enjoy it. Life’s too short, the game’s too short, all the cliches, but I really do live my life that way.”