'He's changed everything': Rizzo boosts Cubs

'He's changed everything': Rizzo boosts Cubs

'He's changed everything': Rizzo boosts Cubs
ATLANTA -- Since he was promoted June 26, Anthony Rizzo has reached base in each of his first eight games, he's hit safely in seven of those games, and is 5-for-12 with two home runs. Does Cubs manager Dale Sveum ever think about what it would have been like if Rizzo was on the team at the start of the season?

"I'd be lying if I said I didn't," Sveum said Thursday. "It's obviously a more dynamic offensive team. We're getting to that plateau a little more of scoring four or more runs in a game, which gives you a heck of a lot better chance."

The Cubs are averaging 5.4 runs per win this season, and averaging 2.6 runs per loss. They're also 6-2 since Rizzo arrived.

"Sure you think about [what might have been]," Sveum said. "You think about what if [Luis] Valbuena was here all year, being able to produce like he has and the defense he has. You think, but that's not how baseball works."

Valbuena has taken over at third base for injured Ian Stewart, who will have surgery on his left wrist Tuesday and is likely done for the season. Valbuena's only batting .215, but he's driven in 13 runs in 19 games.

Rizzo's presence has stabilized the Cubs' lineup, he's provided some power and he's smoothly taken over first base.

"Everything -- he's changed everything," Chicago's Alfonso Soriano said. "Batting third, hitting homers, defense -- I hope the way he plays and the way we play, I hope we continue that way in the second half."