CHICAGO – It’s a place that he called home for just around a decade, but it feels a little new when he returns in 2022.
That was the case as Anthony Rizzo made his way around Chicago on Wednesday and then early Thursday for his first road trip to the city since being traded away by the Cubs in July of 2021.
The first baseman noted how so many people greeted him with a kind “Hello” when they saw him, but there was also another reaction, too.
“People were kinda, ‘Oh that’s right, you guys are in town,'” said Rizzo, now a Yankee, when speaking to reporters at Guaranteed Rate Field on Thursday before a four-game series against the White Sox. “But it just feels good always being here, and obviously a special place for me and my family. That will never change.”
What does, of course, are now the circumstances.
Rizzo was a beloved member of the Cubs from 2012 through the middle of the 2021 season and was a major part of the team’s rise to the top of Major League Baseball. He aided runs to three National League Central division championships, five postseasons, three National League Championship Series appearances and the 2016 World Series title.
Now the next step of his career is in New York, where he’s signed a two-year, $32 million contract to help the Yankees end their 13-year championship drought. Inevitably, he was going to return to the “Windy City” for a game, which would have happened last August at Guaranteed Rate Field, but Rizzo was knocked out of the lineup with a COVID-19 diagnosis.
While the three-time All-Star says he looks forward to a return to Wrigley Field someday to play, he does feel just a little relief that the first return to his former home comes on the southside.
“It’s a lot easier to come to Chicago and play there right now than it would be going there. It would definitely be more emotional going to Wrigley, especially on a weekend like this,” said Rizzo. “The place would be insane.”
Perhaps that will happen down the road, but when it does, Rizzo insists there are no hard feelings or anything the two sides half to work out about how things went down in July of 2021, when the Cubs’ championship core was traded away.
“I think with our relationship with Jed (Hoyer), Theo (Epstein), Jason McLeod; those three really saw me grow up and know who I am and know who my family is, know who (Rizzo’s Wife) Emily is, and I know who they are,” said Rizzo. “It’s business and that’s what it is. They had to make tough business decisions. As a human being, was I pissed off? Of course. But as a baseball player, who sees what happens, and this is business, that’s the way it is.
“As far as hashing it out, I don’t think there’s much to hash out. It’s just understanding of it’s business, and I wish them well. I want Jed to have success being the president there. He’s been the GM kinda under Theo for a while, so for him to build the next Cubs’ team would be great for him, (Hoyer’s Wife) Merrill, and his family.”
Rizzo will get the chance to see all of his former Cubs’ teammates and bosses in a month, when they pay a visit to Yankee Stadium for a three-game series from June 10-12.