Rizzo enjoys first weekend in big leagues

San Diego PadresAdrian GonzalezBud BlackWashington Nationals

SAN DIEGO --  Rizzo-mania overtook Petco Park over the weekend, and the 21 year-old Padres’ rookie didn't disappoint.

Despite mediocre crowds for the four-game series against the Washington Nationals, Petco Park still produced a buzz every time Anthony Rizzo stepped to the plate.

“It’s good to get the first series out of the way,” Rizzo said. “I can just relax now and start playing ball again.”

If Rizzo wasn't relaxed during his first four games with the Padres, he sure fooled everyone, including his manager Bud Black.

“He looked as though he belonged on the field,” Black said. “From the time the game started, he looked poised, looked composed. He had some good at bats.”

The 6-foot 3-inches, 220 pound first baseman who came from Boston in the Adrian Gonzalez deal tripled in his first game on Thursday, homered in his third game on Saturday and reached base in every game against the Nationals.

Even more impressive, he showed remarkable patience at the plate, rarely swinging at a pitch he didn't like and walking five times.

“That’s what four years in the minor leagues will do for you,” Rizzo said. “It’s all about the developing stage. I`m confident enough in my approach to stick with it.”

Although he committed one error in the field, for the most part, Rizzo took command of first base, even making a diving stop and unassisted putout on Saturday.

His efforts quickly made fans at Petco Park, in the stands, and in the clubhouse.

Heath Bell came onto the field before Sunday’s game in Rizzo's jersey.

“I just wanted to feel what it was like to hit a home run,” Bell said. “Everybody asked me what it was like and said nice homerun and I said, ‘Thank you.’ A bunch of people, they had no idea, they just see Rizzo that’s it. It’s just one of those things, good club house, good guy, and a good kid.”

Rizzo described his call-up as awesome and a dream come true on Thursday.

Even though the Padres lost three of his first four games, he said the thrill has not worn off.

“Awesome, I love it,” he said. “I’m going to start coming through in big situations and help the team win. I love the fans and I love the energy.”

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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San Diego PadresAdrian GonzalezBud BlackWashington Nationals