Rizzo gets chance to showcase leadoff skills

Rizzo gets chance to showcase leadoff skills

MESA, Ariz. -- Anthony Rizzo joked with bench coach Dave Martinez that he'd like to lead off, so that's where the Cubs' first baseman batted on Saturday in a split-squad game against the Rockies.

"It's something I always wanted to do," Rizzo said before the game. "They've been messing with the lineup a lot, so why not? I think it'll be fun."

Rizzo went 1-for-4 with a strikeout and run scored in the Cubs' 18-4 win.

Martinez had been scheduled to manage the Cubs in Mesa, with Joe Maddon going on the road in the split-squad game against the Reds, but they switched. Rizzo figured Maddon just wanted to see how he does batting first.

"I think I'm your prototypical leadoff hitter," Rizzo said. "I'm going to try to see some pitches, get on base. We don't steal much on this team anyway."

Maddon said he likes shaking things up once in a while.

"It kind of freshens them up a bit," Maddon said.

Not that Rizzo needs a pick-me-up. He slugged his first spring home run on Friday, and Maddon most likely will insert Rizzo into the No. 3 spot in the lineup during the regular season.

"The big thing is to protect him, and if you don't, he's not going to get pitched to," Maddon said.

Did Rizzo plan to model himself after anyone?

"I'm going to try to do my best Dexter Fowler impression," Rizzo said.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.