Reflective Anthony Rizzo proud of helping build Cubs' culture, admits trade stung

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CHICAGO (670 The Score) – Yankees first baseman Anthony Rizzo’s initial order of business on his first trip back to Chicago since being traded by the Cubs last July was to travel to the Italian deli that he loved best.

“I had to go to Bari deli,” Rizzo said Thursday as his Yankees prepared to open a four-game series against the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field. “The owner said, 'I knew you would come here and eat.’ Dinner wise, I always love Chicago Cut.”

Rizzo returned to the Yankees on a two-year, $32-million in March. He’ll always be a Cub at heart after playing 10 seasons in Chicago, and he admitted he was hurt upon being traded – though also understanding.

“Jed Hoyer, Theo Epstein and Jason McLeod know me as a human being and saw me group up," Rizzo said. “They know Emily, my wife, and the whole family. I know who they are. It’s all about business. They had to make tough business decisions. And as a human being, was I pissed off? Of course. As a baseball player who understands the business of the game, I want Jed and all of them to have success. For Jed to build the next great Cubs team would be great for him and his family.”

Rizzo was asked about how he viewed the Cubs’ run during his time in Chicago, which included a World Series title in 2016 but then fizzled out with no deep playoff runs after 2017.

“That is proof as to how hard it is to win,” Rizzo said. “You need the luck, and you need the breaks. You sometimes need some guy come in with a pearl necklace to help you out. You just need everything to go your way. We had a lot of things go our way in those years. We just did not go all the way (again).”

Rizzo is having a strong 2022 season, hitting .234 with nine homers, 22 RBIs and an .887 OPS in 30 games. His Yankees are also off to a terrific start, sitting at an MLB-best 22-8 entering play Thursday.

Rizzo has kept tabs on his old club’s rebuild and keeps in touch with former teammates, particularly outfielder Ian Happ, a great friend of his.

"I can understand fans and how they feel,” Rizzo said of the Cubs’ rebuild. "But you have Wrigley Field, and it's such an amazing place. As long as they have the product on the field, that venue and that experience, you can’t beat it. It’s a special place. Obviously, it's better when you are winning. But as a fan in general, you always want to see your team going for the top spot. Especially with a top franchise that has a lot of money to spend.

“Once I signed back here again (with New York), I was able to shift being able to cheer for the Cubs again, cheer for everyone there. I have a lot of friends that still work there. I am proud to have helped build the culture there. Now that it has happened, creating new memories here is part of it. I am very happy to be back in New York and how it all played out.”

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.