Rizzo unleashes power stroke, drives in three

Rizzo unleashes power stroke, drives in three

LAS VEGAS -- The Cubs' trip to Las Vegas gives the team more than a chance to see David Copperfield, which manager Rick Renteria did Friday night. It's a chance to bond, and for Anthony Rizzo, a chance to finally get to run the bases.

The first baseman belted two home runs, his first of Spring Training, in a 9-4 split-squad loss Saturday against the Mets at Cashman Field. Rizzo is batting .417 (10-for-24), but said he wasn't worried about the lack of power.

"It doesn't matter," he said of the lack of homers. "It's nice to connect with one and run around the bases, and feel what that feels like again. I've just been pleased the last week or so with the progression at the plate and my approach. It's been a good progression and where I want to be at this time."

Rizzo didn't hit any home runs in Cactus League games last spring, but did connect for Team Italy in the World Baseball Classic last March. He finished the regular season with 23, but batted .233 in his first full season. Now, he has a new hitting coach in Bill Mueller, who hasn't asked Rizzo to make any mechanical tweaks to his swing.

"He's just really positive, so that's good," Rizzo said of Mueller. "He's played, he's hit really well before. It's just working and being on time and being in good position, and that's where I am right now."

Cubs managers in the past usually give some players a choice as to whether they want to make the trip to Vegas.

"This year I did," said Rizzo, who admitted he didn't want to come last year. "We have a lot of new guys, and this is where I see teammates become friends. A trip like this, it's nice to get on the plane, feel like you're in the big leagues again and break up the monotony over there."

He wouldn't mind a few more games at Cashman Field.

"I wish every league was like this park," said Rizzo, who made the ballpark look small.

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