Anthony Rizzo on return to Parkland after shooting: ‘I’m really proud of how everyone is coming together’

MESA, Ariz. - This is the second time that he's arrived at Sloan Park for Spring Training in 2018.

The first was last week, when Anthony Rizzo arrived early to get work started on the upcoming season. This isn't unusual for the first baseman who typically arrives before the report date in Mesa, Arizona.

Monday he was arriving back at Sloan Park again - only this time it was quite different.

Rizzo returned to camp after spending most of the last week in Parkland, Florida doing what he could to aid the victims of the shooting at his alma mater Stoneman Douglas High School. That included a speech at the vigil held for victims on Thursday in which Rizzo discussed what the community meant to him and his desire to aid in the healing process in any way he could.

"The speech I thought was very important and speak really to the kids and to the families that were affected," said Rizzo on Monday during a news conference shortly after his return to Cubs' camp.  "I'm really proud to see what Parkland is doing right now, what all the kids are doing, how they're speaking out and trying to make a difference, I'm really proud of them."

" I stand by my community and I'm really proud of how everyone is coming together."

Not that it wasn't difficult to head back to his community under such circumstances. The 17 deaths in the shooting have tremendously affected many outside of the Parkland community let alone those who call it home.

"Going back, you don't know what to say, you just don't know what to say, you don't know what to say. There is nothing you can say. When people get shot, you're grateful they're alive, when they pass away, you're grateful that you knew them," said Rizzo. "Just to see how real how real it is, it's sad. It's why I'm so proud of what they're doing back in Parkland and how everyone is coming together because they're going to turn this tragedy into something, hopefully, really, really positive."

Now Rizzo moves forward with Spring Training, just as he'd hoped to do when he arrived the first time. More help and healing are needed in Parkland as they try to move on from the tragedy and Rizzo figures to be there to help in any way he can.

"Obviously I said there needs to be change, I don't know what the change needs to be. I'm just really proud of how those kids and how they're coming together and becoming one in Parkland. It's really inspiring to see, it makes me proud," said Rizzo.