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BCB interview: Anthony Rizzo

I had a chance to chat with the Cubs first baseman by phone.

Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Anthony Rizzo is part of a new campaign for BodyArmor sports drink, for which he shot the following new ad spot:

The folks at BodyArmor provided me with the opportunity to speak with Anthony by phone before Wednesday’s game. Here’s a lightly edited transcript of our conversation.

BCB: Do you personally consider the Cubs/White Sox games any more special than others, or is it just like facing any other opponent?

AR: It’s fun to play the White Sox. I like the rivalry, it’s fun to see the fans really engaged. It seems like there’s a little more hype this time around. It’s a little more than just another game.

BCB: Willson Contreras has been hot lately and always shows a lot of energy on the field. How does everyone else on the team react to that?

AR: It’s amazing. He plays with so much passion. He loves baseball, he loves learning from all his teammates. It’s a great trait to have. You can see it in his eyes. He really cares, he’s been really good lately and it’s a lot of fun to watch.

BCB: You hit in the leadoff spot for a few games and did really well. Is that something you’d want to do again, or not do again?

AR: It was fun to lead off. I think if the situation calls for it, I’ll hit wherever they need me to. I’m more comfortable in the middle of the order, it’s what I’ve done my whole life. But honestly, whatever the team needs.

BCB: When the team was struggling, Joe Maddon made some comments about the Cubs not finding their “identity” this year. Do you think you’ve found that now and have things come together now that you’re winning?

AR: Our clubhouse has been great. We have a lot of fun in the clubhouse. We’ve been going out there, putting in the work and even though we were falling short a number of times, things have been clicking. We want to keep riding that momentum and keep being the team that plays hard and does the little things right. That will help us in the long run.

BCB: Talk a little bit about the BodyArmor campaign you’ve been working on.

AR: The campaign is called “Obsession” and it highlights how we obsess over our jobs, how that’s just a natural thing. It was really cool working with Kobe Bryant on this, showing his obsession on the court, showing the obsession we all have as young athletes, what we do to establish ourselves and make names for ourselves. For me it was a perfect fit with a perfect company that’s on the uprise.

BCB: When you first came to the major leagues with the Padres you struggled a bit and were sent back to the minors. Can you take what you learned from that and help some of the younger players coming up with the Cubs now?

AR: What I can impart is this: With all the defensive metrics they use now, you have to have a good routine and stick with your strengths. You have to realize the player you are and learn a lot by playing baseball. You learn a lot from playing the games and having the experiences you go through and lean on other guys to try to guide you through.

BCB: One of the things you’ve become known for is jumping up on the tarp or the wall to try to catch foul popups, there was even a bobblehead made from that. What goes through your mind when you are attempting one of those?

AR: You’re not thinking at all. Instinct is taking over and you just want to do whatever it takes to get that out. To me, that’s the crucial thing about playing baseball defense: getting outs, any way you can.

BCB: Talk a little bit about all the charitable work you do, you’re one of the most active players raising money for good causes. How do you find the time to do all that?

AR: It’s really simple. I have a great team with the foundation that make it easy for me to be at places and make time to set things up so I can talk to kids. Life is so much more than just a game of baseball. Sometimes people lose perspective on that, so doing this charitable work, for me, makes me realize all the time that there are things so much bigger than baseball.

BCB: You recently got engaged to be married. Have you set a date yet?

AR: We do not have a date set, no.

BCB: What’s your favorite road city to play in and why?

AR: Right now I’d probably say Atlanta, because the new stadium is beautiful. I’ve always liked going to Atlanta, we stay in a nice area and it’s fun to play there.

BCB: Lastly, you’ve got several different walkup songs. Fans like clapping along to the first one, Martin Solveig’s “Intoxicated.” Have you ever considered making that your sole walkup song?

AR: That first song does get me hyped up, but I like all the songs, I don’t really pay too much attention but I know the fans do have fun with that first one.

Thanks to Anthony for his time and to Lindsey Raivich of BodyArmor for arranging the interview.