After a longer offseason, Anthony Rizzo ready to help the Cubs rebound from quick playoff exit

Anthony Rizzo takes infield practice during Cubs spring training in Mesa on February 20th.

MESA, Ariz. — Despite having the earliest ending to a season since 2014, it was still one heck of a break for Anthony Rizzo. Of course, it mainly had to do with everything away from baseball.

The Cubs first baseman got married to Emily Vakos just before the new year in a star-studded wedding featuring a number of his teammates. He then departed for a honeymoon and about six weeks off before reporting to training camp in Mesa.

“Probably the best offseason I’ve had, right?” Rizzo said. “Get married, great honeymoon. I’m happy to be back, though. It’s been a while.”

Perhaps even a little too long for Rizzo, who like many of the Cubs were used to playing into late October, or in the case of 2016 early November. Their quick exit from the playoffs last season in the Wild Card game made it easy for Rizzo and many of his teammates to get back to camp quickly.

“Obviously it didn’t end the way we wanted, but one ball goes this way or that way it does end the way we want and you get in. We played the Wild Card game but it didn’t work out, But we have a really good team, we have a lot of good talent, and we have a lot of good players that I think are going to continue to take the next step,” he said.

The Cubs front office felt the same, choosing against pursuing major free agents like Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, electing to ride with a roster similar to that of 2018. Rizzo said he was happy with that and was also good with the front office’s comments that there needed to be more urgency in 2019, something they perceived was lacking in the stretch run of last season.

“I liked it, it’s a challenge,” Rizzo said. “It’s a challenge for all of us. We didn’t win last year. Would we sit back and do the same thing? That’s insanity. So we’ve got to play better, we’ve got to be better, take it upon us to lead this group even more. We’ve done it before but we’ve got to do it again, all over.”

At least he had a longer, and special, offseason to get ready to do so.

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