Anthony Rizzo looks forward to a big season in 2023 despite a back problem

Anthony Rizzo joins New York Yankees spring training camp.

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In December, the Yankees agreed to pay $40 million over the next two years to sign Anthony Rizzo. However, the first baseman is at war with his back, and, for him to have another good season, his back needs to work with him. Though his stiffness, which kept Anthony Rizzo out of more than 20 games and made him need an epidural to be ready for the playoffs, is there, the player hopes to be a part of the Yankees’ big season in 2023.

“I think I’d be crazy to sit here and say I won’t have any back issues here, it’s just something that you have to manage,” Rizzo said Sunday ahead of Monday’s first full-squad workout at Steinbrenner Field. “This offseason, I was really focused on recovery. A lot of recovery, feeling good the next day. Not going stubbornly as hard weight-wise, but intensity-wise still keeping it there. Everything feels good.

The Yankee’s first baseman is likely to benefit the most from the new rules on shifts. Also, notwithstanding his troubled back, which hurt him in the second half of last season, Anthony Rizzo still hit 32 home runs, which was a career-high.

Anthony Rizzo needs to do more for the Yankees than just play at first base. They need him to be even better than he was last year, when he hit 32 home runs, drove in 75 runs, and had an OPS+ of 131, which is 31% better than the average MLB batter. They hope that limiting the shift will help Anthony Rizzo raise his batting average from .224 to something higher. They also hope he will play great defense and be a leader in a clubhouse where Aaron Judge will be named captain for the first time.

The Yankees, more than anything else, want Anthony Rizzo’s past problems to be over.

Anthony Rizzo played in 130 games last season, but he missed some time because his back was tight. In September, he went on the injured list because the epidural he got to treat his back problem caused problems. He got better in time for the Yankees’ playoff run when he was one of their best hitters.

Along the way, Anthony Rizzo became known as one of the Yankees’ most respected voices and grew close to the team’s new captain, Aaron Judge.

“He’s so important to us,” said manager Aaron Boone.

Now, Anthony Rizzo can’t wait to step up to the plate without a second baseman in shallow right field. Baseball Savant says that the left-handed batter pulled 45.9% of the balls he put in play last year, which was a career-high. Anthony Rizzo also faced a shift in 82.66% of his plate appearances.

The 33-year-old said that during the off-season, he did everything he could to help his back heal instead of working on making it stronger. Anthony Rizzo also said that the injury wasn’t bothering him on the first day of spring training for position players on Sunday, but he said it’s something he’ll have to deal with.

“I feel confident just with the daily preparation,” Anthony Rizzo said.

“He’s in a good spot right now, too, and he’s had a good winter in that regard,” manager Aaron Boone said. “But I think, with him, it’s always something on that back burner that you have to pay attention to, and it’s really important that he stays on top of his daily routine — his tedious exercise routine, tedious exercises from a core standpoint that put him in the best position to navigate it.”

Anthony Rizzo loves the puppy episode

Aaron Judge’s free agency was closely watched by a lot of people, but no one more than Anthony Rizzo. Almost every day, Rizzo sent Judge, one of his best friends, a text message encouraging him to stay with the Yankees. Rizzo’s response to the rumor that Judge was going to sign with the Giants, which turned out to be false, was interesting. The first baseman said he found out about the report from a text message from another Yankees player. Anthony Rizzo immediately called Judge right away. The AL MVP told him that he hadn’t decided yet.

Anthony Rizzo was glad that Judge got $360 million. Rizzo said, “He makes a lot of money from this game, and he wants the next superstar to make a lot of money.”

Anthony Rizzo then smiled and say Kevin shouldn’t get all the credit for getting Aaron Judge to come back to the Yankees.

Now, when Anthony Rizzo talked about his contract, he called it a “big move” because Judge sets the standard for how much superstars in the game should be paid. The first baseman sent Judge a series of texts with photos of Rizzo’s dachshund, Kevin, playing with Judge’s dog, Penny. These texts made Judge feel sad.

“It’s funny that became such a big story,” Anthony Rizzo said on Sunday. “I mean, it’s true, I did send pictures to kind of guilt him a little bit, but ultimately I was rooting for him to make the decision that was going to make him and [Judge’s wife] Sam happy.”

“He brings a lot of money to this game and he’s pushing for the next top superstar in the game to get a massive payday and I think it’s a big movement for our game,” Anthony Rizzo said to Marly Rivera of ESPN.

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