(CBS) Much has been made this year of Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo ascending into a bigger leadership role with veteran catcher David Ross having retired.
In the eyes of manager Joe Maddon, that’s missing the point. He doesn’t want to put a burden on the the 27-year-old Rizzo. Maddon just wants Rizzo to be himself and keep taking his same approach, then see what follows naturally.
“I’ve always giggled at that, that it’s a certain player’s room or it’s a player’s team when on the front of (the jersey), it doesn’t say the guy’s name, it says the city, the Cubs, Chicago or whatever,” Maddon said in an interview with Danny Parkins and Joe Ostrowski on 670 The Score on Wednesday. “I don’t know, maybe I’m altruistic to a fault and maybe I’m just too about team to a fault. I don’t know, but I’ve never bought into that concept. I know it’s prevalent in the NBA, it’s prevalent on some NFL teams. I don’t get it. I don’t get it. It is everybody (who leads).
“Obviously, you’re going to have stronger voices within a room, but at the end of the day, I promise you, I treat the last guy on the roster as the superstar you’re talking about.”
So what’s Rizzo’s role?
“He’s the first baseman,” Maddon said. “See, that’s the thing people don’t understand — he’s what, (27)? Let him grow up. Let him grow into that. Eventually, he’ll become even more of a voice in that room. But maybe it’s not his turn. Jonny Lester has been there a long time, John Lackey has. And if I’m Riz, I’m going to defer to them anyway, just based on their experience. Everybody wants to rush everything all the time, and that’s another concept I don’t quite understand. Let Riz be Riz. Let him continue to grow. He’s doing a great job with it. I’ve seen the progress. When I first got here, everybody’s talking to me about Riz being the leader and all this stuff, and he’s definitely got those abilities and those qualities, but why force it on a 25-year-old (then)? Let him learn his game first. All this stuff, the semantics or the definition, I don’t agree with it all the time.”
Listen to Maddon’s full interview below.