5/3/2013 7:51 P.M. ET
Instincts took over on Rizzo's tarp catch
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- Anthony Rizzo jokes with teammate Darwin Barney at least twice a week that the first baseman is going to make the defensive play of the year that day. On Thursday, Rizzo might have done just that.
With one out in the seventh inning of a scoreless game against the Padres, Chase Headley hit a popup that drifted toward foul territory near first base. Rizzo tracked it and was able to catch the ball, then fell between the tarp and the brick wall. He hung on for the out and escaped without a cut or a scrape.
"I visualize those plays daily," Rizzo said Friday. "I actually had a bad read on it. The wind I thought would blow it quicker, and next thing you know, it's behind me. It was just an instinct play."
He's watched the replay a thousand times.
"I got a couple messages from people who said they were going to have a heart attack [watching it]," Rizzo said. "I didn't realize it was that close -- I don't know how I fit in there."
Rizzo is 6-foot-3 and 240 pounds. It's impossible to figure out how he squeezed between the tarp and the wall. He wouldn't mind a little padding next time.
"I could've been really close to looking like a hockey player there if my face would've hit it," Rizzo said.
Adding some cushion to the walls is most likely not in the Wrigley Field renovation plans.
"It's something that's been here for 100 years," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said of the brick walls. "We're getting back into the essence of Wrigley and the bricks and the ivy."
Sveum isn't going to tell his young first baseman to take it easy, either.
"That's not the way you can play," Sveum said. "You definitely don't take aggressiveness away from people. That's just the way you have to play the game."
Rizzo, who was definitely lucky to not get injured, said he's made some crazy plays before.
"There's plays like that where your instincts take over," he said. "Last year, before I got called up, I slid into stairs at [Triple-A] Iowa trying to make a play. It's something where instincts take over. [Travis Wood] was out there pitching his tail off, and you just want to make plays."
Rizzo, who has 13 hits in his last 30 at-bats after Friday's 3-for-5 performance, is going to keep hustling after balls.
"I'm not going to not sell out, no matter what," Rizzo said. "It doesn't matter if I get hurt, I get hurt. It's not like I'm not going to make the play because I'm scared."
Fujikawa, Garza slated for upcoming rehab outings
CHICAGO -- Cubs pitchers Kyuji Fujikawa and Matt Garza will both make rehab appearances at Triple-A Iowa starting Sunday.
Fujikawa, who has been sidelined with a strained right forearm, will pitch Sunday, and he is scheduled to throw no more than 25 pitches. He appeared in five games before he was put on the disabled list.
Garza, who missed all of Spring Training because of a strained left lat, will make his second rehab start on Monday for Iowa. This was expected to be the first of three more rehab starts for the right-hander, who was limited last season after elbow problems sidelined him in July.
"We'd like to see him get three more starts down there, and the third start from now, get close to 100 pitches before he gets back here," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Friday.
Starting pitching has been one of the Cubs' strengths, with a 3.49 ERA entering Friday's game. What happens when Garza is ready to return?
"It's a good problem to have," Sveum said. "Sometimes those things work themselves out by the time he's ready to pitch, and if not, we all know it's going to be one heck of a tough decision as to what we're going to do."
Cubs activate Stewart, send him to Triple-A
CHICAGO -- The Cubs activated third baseman Ian Stewart from the disabled list on Friday and optioned him to Triple-A Iowa.
Stewart has been on a Minor League rehab assignment at Iowa, recovering from a strained left quad suffered on Feb. 21. Major League players are limited to 20 days per rehab assignment, and Stewart's time expired on Friday.
In 13 games with Iowa, Stewart was 4-for-44 (.091) with one double and four RBIs. He's struck out 16 times and walked eight times.
So far, Cubs third basemen Luis Valbuena and Cody Ransom have combined for seven home runs in 28 games, most in the Major Leagues. That's also more than half of the entire season total from last season. Valbuena has hit five home runs so far and Ransom has two while playing third. In 2012, Chicago third basemen combined for 12 home runs.
"Right now, that combination is one of the best in baseball at that position," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Friday. "There's nothing you need to change there."
• Kane County infielder Rock Shoulders and Tennessee left-handed pitcher Eric Jokisch were named the Cubs' Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Month for April, respectively.
Shoulders, 21, hit .370 with 19 runs scored, seven doubles, five home runs and 16 RBIs in 22 April games for the Class A Cougars. He posted a .457 on-base percentage, thanks in part to 13 walks, and had a .642 slugging percentage to give him a 1.099 OPS for the month, the second-highest mark in the Midwest League.
Shoulders was tied for third in the league in runs scored, home runs and extra-base hits (12), fourth in batting average and tied for fourth in hits.
Jokisch, 23, went 3-1 with a 1.84 ERA in five April starts for the Double-A Smokies, striking out 21 while walking six and limiting opponents to a .240 batting average. He began the season going at least six innings while allowing one or no runs in each of his first four starts. Jokisch finished the month tied for fifth in the Southern League in victories, tied for eighth in innings pitched and ninth in ERA.
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.