Rizzo Savoring Success: 'Could Be Last Year Together'

CHICAGO (670 The Score) -- As the Cubs are off to their best start since 1970 at 12-3, first baseman Anthony Rizzo has been a leading motivator of the group.

His words before the Cubs hosted the Brewers on Thursday reflected that, with Rizzo sharing his appreciation for playing a shortened season and explaining what's behind the team's sense of urgency.

"I'm not going to shy away from this," Rizzo said. "This could be our last year together. I think we all know that. Especially with the state of the game and who knows what's going to happen. This could be our last run with all our core guys. This could be my last year, who knows. So, I'm enjoying every second of it. When times get tough -- I've obviously through tough times before -- you start appreciating all the little things again that you may take for granted. I'm a victim of it. I'm sure you're a victim of it. But it's the joy of the game that we're playing for right now. I think it's really showing. We're just playing, really, high school summer baseball right now. That's how we feel we're playing, just going out and playing baseball and not worrying if someone's hitting .500 or someone's hitting under .200. It's just, let's win, let's pick each other up and figure it out."

The Cubs have cited their energy as part of the reason for their strong start and the good vibrations. Rizzo has been a ringleader, as he's arguably the loudest Cub of any of the players on the bench inside stadiums that have no fans in the stands.

"It all starts with Rizzo," shortstop Javier Baez said recently. "He is creating a lot of energy and leading the fun for all of us, even more than in the past."

Rizzo, 31, publicly referencing that this could be his last year with the Cubs came with the context of the events of the offseason. The Cubs hold a team option on Rizzo in 2021, the final year on his contract. He has spoken of his desire to remain with the Cubs for his entire career, but the organization didn't engage in contract extension talks, his agent said last December. 

So for now, Rizzo is just enjoying the ride.

"The attitude I am taking is to have as much fun as I can," Rizzo said. "These are different circumstances, but a lot of good has come out of this as well. When we are on the road, we are all together there are no distractions. It's just an open filter for us at all times. You are seeing guys relaxing and just having fun. There are no calling guys out in front of the whole team anymore. In my the first couple of years, that was how you would be called out. That is not how to do it now. Guys will crawl into a hole a little bit more with that treatment. Delivering the message properly. We are having a lot of fun, and it shows."

Rizzo cited manager David Ross, left-hander Jon Lester and former teammates Ben Zobrist and John Lackey as those he learned a lot about winning and leadership from, particularly during the Cubs' championship-winning 2016 season. Now, Rizzo is one of the grizzled veterans.

"Being more mindful of what you say and how you say it is important," Rizzo said. "It's really big for everyone and even for me. The way Rossy delivers messages a lot of times, I have learned a lot from him about that. It's about not running from being the face of the franchise but embracing it. I want to make sure everyone is OK in all aspects. I need to pick guys up and make them feel all right. And in return, guys are doing that for me as well."

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