Anthony Rizzo slugged his first Cubs homer on Saturday

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Anthony Rizzo made his major league debut last year as a member of the Padres and belted his first career home run in a June 11 loss to the Nationals.

Now he’s on the board with his new team, the Cubs.

The 22-year-old first baseman smoked a two-run blast over the right field fence in the bottom of the sixth inning Saturday, plating Starlin Castro and pushing the Cubs to a 3-2 lead over the Astros.

It’s a lead they would not relinquish, giving Rizzo his second game-winning hit in four games since arriving at Wrigley Field last Tuesday night. “It just feels good to get that win and get that monkey off my back hitting a home run and this and that,” he told JJ Stankevitz of CSNChicago.com after the victory.

Rizzo is now 4-for-15 with two doubles, a dinger and three RBI — good for a .267/.313/.600 slash line.

Rakuten Golden Eagles sign Jabari Blash

Jabari Blash
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Former Angels outfielder Jabari Blash has signed a one-year deal with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball, the team announced Friday. Per the Japan Times, the deal is said to be worth around $1.06 million. Blash was released from his contract with the Angels at the end of November.

The 29-year-old outfielder has had a rough go of it in the majors, where he failed to duplicate the promising results he delivered in the minors. While he consistently batted above .250 with 20-30 home runs per season at the Double- and Triple-A level, he petered out in back-to-back gigs with the Padres and Angels and slumped toward a .103/.200/.128 finish across 45 PA for Anaheim in 2018.

The hope, of course, is that the environment in NPB will help him get a better handle on his issues at the plate — in a best case scenario, resulting in a full-scale transformation that could make him more marketable to MLB teams in the future. To that end, Blash expects to be utilized as a cleanup batter in the Eagles’ lineup and will focus on assisting the club as they make a run toward the Japan Series.