8/7/2013 11:07 P.M. ET
Rizzo looks to improve on situational hitting
By Stephen Pianovich / MLB.com
PHILADELPHIA -- Anthony Rizzo has been the Cubs' most productive hitter this season.
The first baseman's 63 RBIs lead the team, and are a rather large number for a player who is hitting under .200 with runners in scoring position. Rizzo has a .240 average and .784 OPS on the season, but those numbers are .184 and .612 when runners are on second or third.
"If he's hitting .300 with runners in scoring position, you're looking at 80 RBIs instead of 62, or whatever he has," manager Dale Sveum said. "That's' the stat that has to be better."
Rizzo, who turns 24 on Thursday, is playing in his first full Major League season, but he posted good numbers in 87 games after being called up in June last year. That included those key RBI situations, as Rizzo hit .338 with a .961 OPS with runners in scoring position in 2012.
"He was hitting the ball the other way a lot. He did a lot of good things with runners in scoring position," Sveum said. "This year, it's like he's trying to hit a home run every time somebody is in scoring position."
Rizzo also has a team-leading 18 homers, and four of his last six hits have been home runs. Rizzo, whose OPS in his last six games is 1.099 because of all the homers, was out of the starting lineup on Wednesday against Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels.
Neal the 49th player to appear for Cubs
PHILADELPHIA -- When Thomas Neal pinch-hit in the ninth inning of the Cubs' 9-8 loss to the Phillies on Tuesday, he became the 49th player to appear for the Cubs this year.
Neal, who was claimed off of waivers from the Yankees on Monday, is also one of 11 Cubs on the 25-man roster who did not start the season there.
The Cubs are a young team and in the middle of a rebuilding process, so manager Dale Sveum knows he is going to get a look at a plethora of different players. But this does pose some difficulties for the manager.
"You don't know people. We're getting people off waivers and things like that," Sveum said. "You just don't know them. A lot of times all you know is Minor League stats, and that is what you go on because most of these guys have a small sample size in the big leagues. Other than that, you just don't know what you have until you put them out there and see yourself."
Going through a lot of players is nothing new to Sveum. The Cubs used a franchise-record 53 players last season, Sveum's first at the helm.
That record will be challenged when the rosters expand to 40 players on Sept. 1.
Baker's rehab assignment on hold
PHILADELPHIA -- Scott Baker's Minor League rehab stint was temporarily shut down on Wednesday and will be re-started next week, according to the team.
Baker -- who has not pitched in the Majors since 2011 and had Tommy John surgery last year -- was deemed a "few starts away" from being ready for the big leagues by manager Dale Sveum on Wednesday. Baker had made four starts in the Minors, but the Cubs decided to pull the plug on his current rehab stint to give him a fresh 30 days.
The right-hander had a 4.15 ERA in seven seasons with the Twins, but has allowed 14 earned runs in 12 minor league innings in 2013.
• Albert Almora, the Cubs' first-round Draft pick in 2012, has been placed on Kane County's seven-day disabled list, retroactive to Aug. 5, because of a groin injury. Almora has played in 61 games with Kane County since joining the team May 21, and leads the Cougars with a .376 on-base percentage and .329 batting average.
Stephen Pianovich is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.