Yankees' Anthony Rizzo eager to hit leadoff vs. Red Sox: 'I’ll be ready to go and set the tone'

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Anthony Rizzo high fives in the dugout road uniform
Anthony Rizzo high fives in the dugout road uniform

When the Yankees released their starting lineup for Tuesday’s Wild Card Game matchup with the Boston Red Sox, one of the biggest surprises came right at the top.

Aaron Boone will have first baseman Anthony Rizzo leading off, with Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton following him in the top three.

Rizzo, who’s typically been a middle of the order hitter throughout his illustrious career, is all in favor of stepping into the box first.

“I love it,” Rizzo said on Tuesday. “I’ve never done it in the postseason, but I’m excited. I’ll be ready to go and set the tone. I’ve got the first opportunity in the 2021 playoffs to do something special.”

“My goal is not to let [Nathan]Eovaldi settle in whatsoever, so to be aggressive," he added. "He’s an aggressive pitcher in the strike zone. I’m sure he’s going to come out firing today with the adrenaline and everything.

While he’s never hit leadoff in the postseason, he has started 65 career regular season games in the leadoff spot, and he’s put up some outstanding numbers, slashing .321/.407/.554 with 14 home runs, 38 RBI and 34 runs scored.

So when Boone told him where he was batting in the order on Tuesday, he was all for it.

“Booney just let me know, and I said ‘I’m in.’ It doesn’t matter where you hit this time of the year, doesn’t matter what you do,” Rizzo said. “I know individually stories are written about guys who are hot and guys who aren’t, but this time of the year it’s about winning and playing for the 25 other guys on your team and playing for your staff, playing for your city and your fans. The personal stuff right now is nothing. Leading off, I’ve enjoyed it when I do it, and it won’t be any different today.”

Interestingly enough, one of Rizzo’s longtime teammates and friends, Kyle Schwarber, is also hitting leadoff for the Red Sox, as the two trade deadline acquisitions get things started.

“It will be exciting. Schwarber leading off too,” Rizzo said. “I talked to him earlier. It’s pretty cool coming full circle, playing against a really good friend leading off as well. Not your prototypical leadoff hitters, but he’s excited about it too.”