“While I don’t have all the answers, I know that something has to change, before this is visited on another community, and another community, and another community,” Rizzo, a 2007 graduate of the school, said Thursday night at a candlelight vigil for the victims of Wednesday’s massacre.
Seventeen people, including students and school workers, were killed when a gunman opened fire with a semiautomatic rifle at the school in South Florida.
Rizzo left Cubs training camp in Arizona on Wednesday and was one of about two dozen speakers who addressed a crowd of thousands who came out to show their support at the Parkland Amphitheater.
“I come home to Parkland to what should be everybody’s first concern, and that’s showing our kids out there — the students at Stoneman Douglas and of Broward County and from all over the country — that we care about their lives and about their future,” Rizzo said. “I’ve been very impressed with talking to the students and how they’re taking care of each other and how they’re coming together. I’m so grateful to the teachers, the coaches, the administration and all the first responders that tried to protect them.”
Wearing a black polo shirt with a red ribbon pinned above his right chest, Rizzo was seated on the amphitheater stage along with spiritual leaders, government officials and family members of the deceased.
Rizzo took part in a moving candle-lighting ceremony as the names of the 17 victims were read aloud. Shortly after that, he took the podium and spoke for four minutes, pledging his support to an emotional crowd that included his mother, father and fiancée.
“I am only who I am because of this community,” Rizzo said. “And I just want all of you to know how proud I am to be a part of this community. I want you to know that you’re not alone in your grief. We’re all grieving with you. The entire country is grieving with you. So whatever comfort I can give, I will give. Whatever support I can offer to our students, teachers, coaches and families and first responders, you’ll have it.”
Rizzo showed his support during Thursday’s hourlong ceremony by rising to his feet several times to join thunderous ovations as Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel and others made impassioned pleas for “common sense gun laws.”
“I promise you we’re going to be mourning, grieving and a bit broken for a while,” Rizzo said during his speech. “We’re human. But I promise the cameras are going to move on. The demands of everyday life will intrude again. Classes will start again. The seasons are gonna change, and the sun is going to rise. And all we’ll have left is each other.
“We don’t know who’s hiding their sadness or feelings of guilt and loneliness, or who needs help and is too proud or afraid to ask. So we have to be there for each other, we have to cope with our pain, and we have to live each other’s pain. We have to be the best possible versions of ourselves.”
After the vigil concluded, Rizzo declined to speak with reporters. It’s unknown how long he’ll remain in Parkland before rejoining the Cubs in Arizona.
Manager Joe Maddon exchanged text messages Wednesday night with Rizzo in the aftermath of the nation’s deadliest school attack in five years. He said the team was “all for” Rizzo leaving spring training to offer support in Parkland.
“Told him to get back to us if there’s anything that we can do to help,” Maddon said earlier Thursday. “I definitely want him to go back there and become involved, as he should. It’s just horrible. … What are the proper words right now? I don’t even know what the proper words are except that ‘we’re there for you.'”
Cubs outfielder Albert Almora Jr., who is from outside Miami, recalled Rizzo hitting at his old high school a couple of times last season, noting, “I’m sure he still has a lot of connections there.”
Before starting drills, the Cubs huddled together on the grass under cloudy skies following more morning rain.
“It’s an awful situation,” Almora said. “The only thing we can do is come together. Obviously we’re all here for Anthony and for that school and all those families.”
Maddon called Rizzo “the rock on the field” for the Cubs.
“Please go. Please take your time,” was the manager’s message to Rizzo. “Please do what you think you need to do and let us know is there some way that we can become involved and help.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant not in Chicago Cubs lineup amid trade buzz
CHICAGO — Social media platforms were abuzz after the Chicago Cubs announced their Thursday starting lineup, which did not include stars Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo — although manager David Ross said no one has been traded. At least not yet.
“I had this earmarked for Rizz for a while now,” Ross stated before the Cubs’ series finale against the Cincinnati Reds. “First off-day after the All-Star break. That was normal.
“Looking at the length of the game last night and KB [Bryant] all over the place, and issues with his legs, just made some sense to me.”
Bryant saw his first action of the season at shortstop during Wednesday’s loss after starting the game in left field. He endured a 69-pitch ninth inning and had hamstring problems last week, so Ross decided a day off was needed.
Teams on the verge of a trade sometimes sit the player to keep him from getting injured. Ross was asked directly whether the moves were related to the looming trade deadline.
“They are not,” he said. “They are available off the bench. They’ll get a nice round of applause, I’m sure, when they get in there — if they get in there — to pinch hit. Everyone can hate me or blame me, but we have to take care of these guys. Nobody has been traded yet; let’s keep our heads about us.”
Bryant was drafted by the Cubs in 2013, winning Rookie of the Year and MVP in consecutive seasons. Rizzo came over in a trade with the San Diego Padres in 2012. Both are considered iconic Cubs after helping break a 108-year championship drought back in 2016.
“I’ve talked to both of them,” Ross said. “They know the situation; it could be their last home game and all that. Everyone is fine with what’s going on.”
Toronto Blue Jays address bullpen issues by acquiring closer Brad Hand from Washington Nationals
Hand is 5-5 with a 3.59 ERA and 21 saves this season.
Hand signed a one-year, $10.5 million contract with the Nats this past offseason. He was coming off another solid season as the closer for the Cleveland Indians in 2020, leading the major leagues with 16 saves, but was a victim of the team’s salary purge heading into 2021.
The Blue Jays have had a multitude of injuries in their bullpen, beginning with the team losing Kirby Yates to Tommy John surgery to start the season.
Adams, 25, is considered the best power hitter in Toronto’s system according to Baseball America. He joins the Nationals after hitting .239 with seven homers, 17 RBIs in 35 games for Triple-A East Buffalo.
Aaron Boone says Joey Gallo will be with New York Yankees on Friday
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — All-Star slugger Joey Gallo‘s trade to the New York Yankees from the Texas Rangers was completed Thursday, giving the heavily right-handed Yankees a much-needed powerful lefty bat.
Manager Aaron Boone said he spoke with Gallo on Thursday and “welcomed him to the team.”
“I think we’re a lot better today,” Boone said before the Yankees played Tampa Bay.
Boone said that Gallo will be with the Yankees for Friday’s series opener against the Marlins in Miami.
While he has played right field for Texas, Boone envisions Gallo playing a lot in left for the Yankees, who have Aaron Judge as their regular right fielder.
“We’re excited to add an All-Star,” Boone said.
The Rangers received right-hander Glenn Otto, second baseman Ezequiel Duran, shortstop Josh Smith and second baseman/outfielder Trevor Hauver from New York. Texas also sent pitcher Joely Rodriguez to New York.
New York’s left-handed hitters have struggled this season, ranking last in the majors in average (.197), 28th in home runs (22) and OPS (.633) and 29th in hard-hit rate (33%).
A two-time All-Star, Gallo ranks sixth in the AL this season with 25 home runs, to go with 55 RBIs and a .223 average. He had struggled mightily at the plate since the All-Star break, with no home runs and a .067 average in the 10 games following, before breaking out Tuesday with a three-run shot against the Diamondbacks.
Gallo, 27, is among just eight rostered major leaguers with multiple career 40-homer seasons (2017, 2018).
Gallo is owed $2.2 million from his $6.2 million salary. He is eligible for arbitration next winter and can become a free agent after the 2022 season.
The Yankees began the day 8½ games behind Boston in the AL East and trail Tampa Bay, Oakland and Seattle in the wild-card race for two spots.
Rodriguez, 29, is 1-3 with one save and a 5.93 ERA in 31 relief appearances this season, holding left-handed batters to a .176 average. He is 2-5 with a 5.05 ERA in 81 relief appearances over four seasons with Philadelphia (2016-17) and Texas (2020-21), and he was 3-7 with a 1.85 ERA over 90 relief appearances in 2018-19 for the Chunichi Dragons of Japan’s Central League.
Duran, 22, hit .290 with 15 doubles, six triples, 12 homers and 48 RBIs this season in 67 games with High-A Hudson Valley.
Hauver, 22, made his professional debut this season with Low-A Tampa, hitting .288 with 17 doubles, nine homers and 49 RBIs in 66 games.
Otto, 25, was 7-3 with a 3.33 ERA in 12 starts and one relief appearance with Double-A Somerset and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this season.
Smith, 23, hit .324 with 12 doubles, nine homers, 24 RBIs and 17 stolen bases in 39 games with Low-A Tampa and High-A Hudson Valley.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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