Anthony Rizzo admits to ‘worst’ phase, denies concussion link to slump

Yankees' Anthony Rizzo celebrates after hitting his second homer against the Rays on May 12, 2023.
John Allen
Monday June 10, 2024

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Anthony Rizzo, the New York Yankees’ first baseman, acknowledges his current struggles at the plate but remains optimistic about a turnaround. Despite being benched for the series finale against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday, Anthony Rizzo is confident his swing is on the brink of finding its rhythm, even though his recent numbers suggest otherwise.

Since April 29, Anthony Rizzo has posted a .181/.236/.248 slash line. Overall, he is hitting .224/.285/.339 with seven homers and 25 RBIs this season. He expressed to the Daily News that he was feeling close to regaining his form, despite his production indicating otherwise.

“It’ll click,” he said. “I feel like it’s close to clicking, actually. I know it may not look like it, but I do feel like it’s close.”

His slump has been particularly pronounced since the start of June, as he has gone 1-for-29, leading manager Aaron Boone to consider resting him for the Yankees’ Monday opener in Kansas City.

Anthony Rizzo’s challenges extend back to last year when he played through undiagnosed post-concussion symptoms before being shut down in August. Boone, however, prefers to focus on the player’s performance this season, noting that the last few weeks have been particularly tough. The manager believes that adjustments made during a slump do not always produce immediate results.

Anthony Rizzo in action against the Detroit Tigers during the Yankees' 2-1 victory on May 4, 2024.
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Boone anticipates that Anthony Rizzo is a few weeks away from returning to form, but the first baseman’s struggles have persisted since a collision with the Padres’ Fernando Tatis Jr. on May 28 of last year, which left him feeling foggy and disrupted his 2023 campaign. Since that incident, Rizzo has managed just a .204/.279/.293 line.

“I’d rather just focus on what we’ve seen this year,” Boone said. “There’s no question over the last two, three weeks especially, it’s been a little bit of a struggle. I think sometimes when you’re going through it and you’re making little adjustments, they don’t always take right away.”

Anthony Rizzo rules out health issue

Anthony Rizzo, the New York Yankees’ struggling first baseman, maintains that he is healthy this season despite his prolonged slump at the plate. On Sunday, he spoke about his past concussion and his current performance, emphasizing that his health is not the issue.

“All that’s behind me,” he said. “I’m seeing the ball as I should be seeing it. I’m just mechanically a little off. The physical capability and talent is there.”

Anthony Rizzo asserted that he has fully recovered from the concussion and is seeing the ball well. He attributed his poor performance to mechanical issues rather than any lingering physical problems, stressing that his ability and talent remain unaffected.

Yankees hitting coach James Rowson pointed to timing issues as a key factor in Anthony Rizzo’s struggles. Rowson explained that when a hitter’s timing is off, they can’t execute their swing properly, leading to rushed or drifting movements that disrupt their mechanics.

“If you’re on time consistently, what happens is, you’re able to get off your swing consistently the way you want to,” he opined. “But if you’re a little late, you’re gonna rush. If you’re a little early, you don’t quite know what to do with the time, so you may drift a little bit. When those things happen, the swing will fall apart. [Rizzo is] working to find the right timing to enable him to be more consistent with his swing. When you’re on time, what you’ll find out is your mechanics tend to be in line.”

Due to the Yankees' poor performance in 2024, some fans were upset that Anthony Rizzo was included in the lineup on May 29, 2024.
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Drawing a comparison to Aaron Judge‘s previous struggles, Rowson highlighted how crucial timing is for a hitter’s consistency. He noted that when a player finds the right timing, their mechanics naturally fall into place, leading to better performance.

Despite Anthony Rizzo’s confidence in his health and ability to rebound, his declining metrics paint a challenging picture. However, Rowson remains dedicated to addressing Rizzo’s timing issues, with the hope of restoring his contributions to the Yankees’ offense.

Anthony Rizzo is grappling with a significant slump, ranking in the bottom 25th percentile in various advanced metrics, including xwOBA, xBA, xSLG, average exit velocity, bat speed, Barrel%, Hard-Hit%, and Launch Angle Sweet Spot%. These metrics indicate that Rizzo, known for his contact hitting, is currently struggling to make quality contact.

Anthony Rizzo admitted that his performance has declined across the board but stressed that simply acknowledging the poor statistics won’t lead to improvement. Although he doesn’t delve into analytics as much as some teammates, he is aware that he is not performing up to his usual standards.

“Obviously, everything’s down right now,” he said. “When you’re not doing what you’re accustomed to doing, everything’s gonna be down. It’s not like I can go look at those numbers and magically they’re just gonna go up.”

Metrics give hope to Yankees

Rowson pointed to timing issues as a critical factor affecting Anthony Rizzo’s underlying metrics. Rowson is not ready to panic over the numbers, emphasizing that once his timing improves, he believes the first baseman will start hitting the ball harder and more effectively.

The extended slump isn’t just a physical challenge; it’s also mental. Teammate Alex Verdugo mentioned that Anthony Rizzo might be “a little bit in his head,” while Boone noted that the first baseman seems to be “feeling it a little bit.” Boone, who has faced similar struggles, acknowledged the internal challenges players face but praised Rizzo for maintaining a positive attitude and handling the situation well.

Anthony Rizzo himself demonstrated a clear understanding of the mental hurdles associated with a prolonged slump and expressed his determination to overcome them, showing his resolve to work through these challenges and return to form.

He spoke candidly about his ongoing slump and the hurdles he faces in trying to regain his form. Despite disappointing results at the plate, Anthony Rizzo remains resolute, saying he has been “working internally and mentally and grinding” to find his swing, and expressing confidence that it will eventually return.

Anthony Rizzo noted that he has faced similar struggles throughout his baseball career, though his current slump feels particularly severe. He emphasized the need to persevere, observing that slumps can feel insurmountable when one is in the middle of them, just as hot streaks can feel unending. Philosophically, Anthony Rizzo remarked that life tends to balance out these highs and lows.

With Anthony Rizzo’s struggles persisting, questions have emerged about the Yankees’ strategy if his performance doesn’t improve soon. DJ LeMahieu played first base on Sunday, and Triple-A prospects Ben Rice and T.J. Rumfield, both left-handed hitters, are capable of handling the position but are not on the 40-man roster. Additionally, there is speculation that the Yankees might trade for a corner infielder, with Ryan McMahon frequently mentioned, though it’s uncertain if the Rockies are willing to trade him.

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Looking ahead, the Yankees hold a $17 million club option on Anthony Rizzo for next season, which includes a $6 million buyout. Despite his current struggles, he remains a respected leader and presence in the clubhouse.

For now, the Yankees are encouraged by Anthony Rizzo’s diligent work in the batting cage. In addition to refining his timing and mechanics, he is striving to be more selective at the plate, as reflected by his 36.1 Chase% despite feeling he sees the ball well. The hope is that his efforts will soon lead to better performance in games.

What do you think? Leave your comment below.

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One thought on “Anthony Rizzo admits to ‘worst’ phase, denies concussion link to slump

  1. HEY , CASHMANN AND “BOONE THE GOONS”
    STOP YOUR STUPID BULLSHIT…AND PUT RIZZO BACK ON THE LINEUP !!!.

    IT DIDN’T MAKE NO DIFFERENCE BENCHING RIZZO LET GET THAT STRAIGHT !!!.

    SECOND OF ALL …THE BATTING COACH SHOULD SPEND A LITTLE EXTRA TIME WITH RIZZO TO GET HIM UP TO PAR ON HIS HITTING !!!.

    LAST BUT , NOT LEAST…. YOU TWO BOZZOS DONT HAVE ANY COMMON SENSE PUT TOGETHER !!!.
    ( IG AND OUK ) THE PLAYERS ON THE TEAM HAVE MADE A DIFFERENCE THIS YEAR !!!.

    HAL SHOULD’VE SHIT CANNED BOTH YOUR ASSES LAST YEAR ….AND STILL NEEDS TO SHITCAN YOUR ASSES !!!
    THE YANKEE PLAYERS ARE HELPING.YOU BOTH TO KEEP YOUR JOBS !!! YOUR BOTH PATHETIC !!!.😠

    ENOUGH. SAID
    GOD BLESS 🙏 AMERICA

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