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Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo, a cancer survivor, says he's comfortable playing amid the pandemic

Mark Gonzales, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Baseball

CHICAGO -- A slimmed-down Anthony Rizzo said there might be levels of trepidation as he and his Cubs teammates returned Friday to Wrigley Field for a three-week summer training session.

But Rizzo, a cancer survivor, spoke confidently about his decision to play with the COVID-19 pandemic wreaking havoc worldwide.

"As far as my body and the immune system, everything is up to par, if not stronger than when I was 18," said Rizzo, who was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2008.

Rizzo said his oncologist contacted him soon after the coronavirus shut down spring training March 12, and he stressed that the first baseman be diligent in washing his hands and wearing a face mask. Rizzo said he receives an annual checkup from his oncologist and the Cubs.

"And technically, I'm cured." Rizzo said.

Prior to Rizzo's conference call, manager David Ross said he expected all his players to participate in their first formal workout since they played their last exhibition game March 11 prior to the shutdown caused by the virus.

 

Ross made his comments before Major League Baseball announced that only 1.2% of the league's 3,185 players and staff members tested positive for the coronavirus prior to their first workout.

Nevertheless, Rizzo and Ian Happ were moved by a speech by pitching coach Tommy Hottovy, who recently recovered from COVID-19, during a team meeting.

"And it's awesome for him to share his story with us," Rizzo said. "There's a lot of people, unfortunately, who have gotten this and weren't able to tell the story and weren't able to see their families for one last time. And it's unfortunate, and you can't take days for granted."

Happ saw Hottovy's struggles firsthand in pitchers' conference calls involving his spring training roommate, Dakota Mekkes.

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