Yankees’ Anthony Rizzo healthy and ready for 2024: ‘All the head stuff is behind me’

Anthony Rizzo was arguably the best hitting first baseman in MLB for the first two months of the 2023 season before he suffered a head injury during the Yankees’ final May series against the San Diego Padres.

The four-time Gold Glove winner passed concussion protocols, but was later diagnosed with post-concussion symptoms that kept him out of the lineup for the final two months of the season.

Now, Rizzo is looking forward to getting back to work and putting his injury in the rearview.

“Feel great, excited for the new season,” Rizzo told reporters on Tuesday in Tampa. “All the head stuff is behind me, thankfully. Had a very normal offseason, Felt very long but excited to be back in camp.”

Rizzo added: “It means a lot [to be back on the field]. When you don’t get to play and you have to watch from the sidelines. It’s always hard. At the end of the day It’s our passion, it’s my passion. I get to call it a job, but I love coming to work every day.”

Heading into June, Rizzo was slashing .304/.376/.505 with 11 home runs and 32 RBI. After the head injury, the first baseman saw his production at the plate fall. He hit under .200 in both June and July and finished the season with a line of .244/.328/.706 while adding just one more home run and nine RBI.

Although Rizzo had a lost 2023, he chooses to look at the positives of what came out of it.

“It’s all perspective. It could have been worse. Thankfully It’s all better now. And I always look at the bright side of things,” he explained. “I got a little extra rest, got my body in great shape, but just excited to be here and a fresh start on a new year.”

Rizzo's injury and decline over the summer was one of many reasons for the Yankees’ 82-win season and failure to reach the playoffs. But with the team adding more firepower to the lineup in the form of Juan Soto, Alex Verdugo and others, as well as players returning from injury -- himself included -- Rizzo believes the failures of a season ago will go a long way toward what this team can achieve this year.

“Whenever anyone’s humbled … whenever things don’t go according to plan as a professional, the more you do it you can dissect it a bit easier as you get older, and know where you need to work and things you need to focus on,” he said. “It’s a perfect storm with getting a lot of guys and guys coming off not-so-great years or just unfinished years. Going into the offseason you work with a different intent level and now you’re back and we’re ready to go.”