MESA, Ariz. — Willson Contreras sported a big smile after learning that Anthony Rizzo likely would follow fellow slugger Kris Bryant at the top of the Cubs’ revamped batting order.
“That’s going to be a great idea because KB hits a lot of doubles, and Rizzo has a lot of RBIs throughout his career and he’s one of the greatest hitters with men in scoring position,” Contreras said Thursday morning.
“It gives me chills, for sure, just thinking about KB hitting a double and Rizzo getting an RBI early in the count. (Rizzo) might hit a double, single, or might draw a walk.”
That scenario would set up more run-producing opportunities for Javier Baez, Kyle Schwarber and Contreras, who hit 18 doubles and 24 home runs in 105 games last season.
It also could turn Baez and Contreras into this season’s version of Bryant and Rizzo in the middle of the lineup.
“It makes me happy to think about it,” said Contreras, who has hit fifth or lower for most of his career. “It might be Javy (batting third). It might be me behind Javy. It might be Schwarber behind Javy. …
“And making the adjustment to get better with our approach every day, I know we’re going to get better with runners in scoring position.”
Rizzo was pleased that new manager David Ross settled on the lineup change now instead of later this spring.
“The later you wait for things like this, especially with this group, we don’t have the prototypical Dexter Fowler,” said Rizzo, referring to the Cubs’ last regular leadoff hitter in 2015-16.
“It gives you time to either be (upset) or get over being (upset) or be excited and getting used to it. Here it’s been exciting. I know Kris is excited about it.”
Bryant jokingly referred to himself as a “big speedy guy,” adding he was more shocked when he hit leadoff at the University of San Diego than when Ross told him of his plans last weekend.
“Yes, I was more surprised in college, just because I was used to hitting third my whole life,” Bryant said. “I’m not looking at it as a complete surprise or even shocking to me (now).”
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