CHICAGO -- Anthony Rizzo returned to the Cubs' lineup on Tuesday with every intention of turning up his offensive production after a dismal start to the month of August.
The first baseman was held out Monday with illness -- he said he had a "terrible fever" and migraine headaches -- but was back to his regular No. 3 spot in the order for the second game of the series, facing Nats righty Dan Haren.
Rizzo has already set career highs in home runs (18) and RBIs (65) by virtue of the fact that he's played more games this season (122) than nearly his previous two combined (136).
But his production has tailed off since a powerful start (eight homers and 20 RBIs in April) and a good May (.295 average, two homers, 16 RBIs). Entering Tuesday, he was batting .150 in 16 August games with just five RBIs.
"It's just baseball," Rizzo said. "You feel good one day, you feel bad the next. It's just trying to find that even keel and stay consistent. It hasn't been the most consistent for me this year, but it is what it is. You've just got to keep going. It's not like I'm going to back down and not want to play anymore. You've just got to keep going and keep having fun with the game."
Manager Dale Sveum said it was fair to say Rizzo's season has been more of a "road bump" than a "setback" and that it's something plenty of young players experience over the course of their early career.
"They're all going to look back and want to throw one year out of their career and, unfortunately, it'll probably be this one [for Rizzo]," Sveum said. "These guys, they're young, and it's their second time around in the big leagues, their second year sometimes and it just takes some adjustments and some confidence, too. Confidence is obviously the key factor. The confidence is always going to show up on the field."
But when asked about pitchers making adjustments to pitch him inside, or having trouble with fastballs, Rizzo's response hardly lacked machismo.
"They're throwing balls down the middle, too," Rizzo said. "I'm just not hitting them the way I'm supposed to. It doesn't matter what the pitchers do; I'll never give them the credit that some of them deserve, because I know I can hit any pitch at any given time."