Rizzo's approach at the plate impresses Maddon

Rizzo's approach at the plate impresses Maddon

CINCINNATI -- The Cubs' Anthony Rizzo began the day leading the Majors with a .493 on-base percentage, and manager Joe Maddon is happy with the first baseman's approach at the plate.

"If you want to teach a young left-handed hitter how to break the shift, watch what [Rizzo is] doing now," Maddon said.

What's impressed Maddon is Rizzo's approach with two strikes. He's batting .269 in those situations, with a .333 on-base percentage; last season, he hit .220 with two strikes and had a .291 OBP.

"That's the thing I think young hitters don't understand or work on -- it's like one size fits all with their swings," Maddon said. "They don't understand how to manipulate the bat with their hands. I think 'Riz' does, I definitely think [Joey] Votto does. That's how you eliminate shifting on left-handed hitters is to teach them [when they're] young how to utilize their hands with two strikes -- and those two lefties are very good at it."

Extra bases

• The Reds are celebrating the 1990 World Series champions this weekend. Where was Maddon in 1990? He was a roving hitting instructor and field coordinator for the Angels.

"I had managed for six years in the Minor Leagues and then I was a rover," he said. "I think roving is the best Minor League job there is. When you show up, you're normally really welcomed -- because it's just for a five-day gig and people like seeing you and then you leave. It's almost like with grandchildren -- you just give them back. That was one of my favorite jobs to be a roving instructor."

Told that Addison Russell and Kris Bryant weren't even born in 1990, Maddon shook his head.

"That's sad," he said.

• Russell had a tough day on Friday, striking out four times in five at-bats.

"He's 21 and just got to the big leagues," Maddon said of the Cubs' No. 2 prospect. "He's fine. How about the plays he made on defense? ... That's what my focus is -- it's not just about hits, folks. If you want to play that game, you'll lose a lot. You've got to catch it."

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.