Rizzo’s Debut

Anthony Rizzo made his big-league debut Thursday night at Petco Park. The Padres beat Washington, 7-3, although this was a mere footnote to the “crowd” (if three is a crowd, then 16,464 qualifies), which cheered everything Rizzo did but which seemed uncertain how to occupy the spaces between his moments.

The public address announcer helped fuel what few flames existed in a mostly empty ballpark, calling attention to the fact that this was Rizzo’s debut and welcoming him to San Diego. Fans seemed hip to it. If he wasn’t the only reason they attended… well, who are we kidding?

There will be plenty of Rizzo coverage all over the Internet (try some video), so we’ll keep this short and sweet:

  • Rizzo struck out looking in his first at-bat against Livan Hernandez. I am told by those who watched on television that the pitch was inside. From our seats, Rizzo looked like an ant, so I can neither confirm nor deny.
  • He tripled to deep center to lead off the fifth inning. The ball was crushed and would have cleared the fence in Tucson with ease. It would have left most other big-league parks as well, but Rizzo doesn’t play half his games in most other big-league parks. He plays in a venue where only two men with at least 300 PA (Scott Hairston, Mike Cameron) own a career SLG higher than .450. This is Rizzo’s reality.
  • He walked against the lefty that was brought in to face him in the sixth and walked again in the seventh.
  • He looked comfortable at first base, which is the first time I’ve been able to say that about a Padres first baseman all year. At one point, while chasing a foul popup, he flipped over the retaining wall and into the stands, causing 16,464 people to gasp at once. Moments later, as Rizzo trotted back to his position, those gaps turned to cheers. As I say, we cheered everything he did… including not getting hurt.

Meanwhile, in the non-Rizzo portion of the game, Chase Headley homered to left-center, singled, and made a terrific diving stop of a ball hit to his left. The home run surprised me; I didn’t think it had distance but the ball kept carrying.

Brad Hawpe singled twice and walked in four trips to the plate. Hawpe, pushed to right field by Rizzo, played defense there about as well as had at first base. Did I mention the two singles and the walk?

Will Venable, recalled earlier in the day, robbed an incredulous Danny Espinosa of a homer in the eighth. It made up for Venable’s pinch-hit strikeout (yep, he chased a slider down and in) to end the seventh.

* * *

Not that anyone asked, but here are the top 10 career SLG at Petco Park (min 300 PA):

  1. Hairston, .492
  2. Cameron, .459
  3. Ramon Hernandez, .444
  4. Adrian Gonzalez, .442
  5. Mark Loretta, .441
  6. Nick Hundley, .441
  7. Phil Nevin, .438
  8. Ryan Klesko, .423
  9. Brian Giles, .398
  10. Kevin Kouzmanoff, .394

It’s good that Hundley is off the DL. He is one of the few current Padres who can hit the ball out of Petco Park.

Speaking of moves… Hundley is up, Blake Tekotte is back at Double-A San Antonio (happened a couple days ago). Rizzo, Venable, and Evan Scribner are up from Tucson; Aaron Cunningham was sent down to Triple-A, Eric “Tony Gwynn Jr. Without the OBP or Defense” Patterson was DFA’d, and Luke Gregerson was placed on the DL with an oblique strain.