The real story behind Anthony Rizzo borrowing Matt Szczur’s lucky bat

1:47 | MLB
The untold story behind Anthony Rizzo's playoff bat switch
Tuesday March 14th, 2017
Last fall, Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo went viral on the internet after he revealed that he broke out of a postseason slump with the help of a borrowed bat from teammate Matt Szczur. But at the time, Rizzo didn't give the full story. 

Sports Illustrated senior writer Tom Verducci shares the real story in The Cubs Way: The Zen of Building the Best Team in Baseball and Breaking the Curse, which will be available from Penguin Randomhouse LLC on March 28.

SI.com published an excerpt of Verducci's new book on Tuesday. 

I pulled Rizzo aside on the eve of the World Series, just after he had finished his media day obligations at Progressive Field, in which yet again Rizzo led people to believe that his bat and Szczur’s were similar, except for the incredible luck Szczur’s bat brought him. Rizzo made a confession to me, but only after he made me promise it was off the record until the World Series was over. I agreed. Szczur’s bat was significantly smaller than his own: one inch shorter and two ounces lighter. Rizzo switched bats not for luck, but as a concession to losing strength and bat speed.

“It allowed me to free up my hands and not have to use my body,” he said. “Because at the end of the year I was so beat, I guess. In the beginning of the playoffs I was missing fastballs. I kept asking myself, why? My swing is good. It could be psychological, but I think not. But I think taking the extra inch off and lightening my bat, I started to get to those pitches again.”

Rizzo knew that because of the way he struggled early in the playoffs, scouting reports on him would say that his bat was slow and that he could be beaten with fastballs. Meanwhile, with Szczur’s bat, he actually was much quicker to the ball. It was a secret he enjoyed for the final 10 postseason games, during which he hit .432.

MLB
Book excerpt: Go behind the scenes of the Cubs' World Series Game 7 win

Rizzo hit .360 in the World Series with nine hits, one home run and five RBIs.

A special opportunity to buy a signed copy is available here.

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