By JANIE McCAULEY , AP Baseball Writer
MESA, Ariz. (AP) — Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo left spring training Thursday for his home in Parkland, Florida, to offer support in the wake of a deadly shooting at his former high school.
Rizzo had been an early arrival in Arizona, where Chicago’s position players aren’t set to report until Monday ahead of the club’s first full-squad workout. He is expected back by then.
A 2007 graduate of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School where the shooting took place Wednesday, Rizzo donated $150,000 to his alma mater in November to help toward lights for the baseball and softball fields. His parents still live in the area.
Rizzo tweeted his support, saying, “Parkland and Coral Springs please stay strong!” and “This is out of control … and our country is in desperate need for change.”
He added: “I hope In this darkest of times back home this brings everyone together and we can find love. You’re all in my prayers” Rizzo ended the post with two emoji of hands together in prayer.
Cubs outfielder Albert Almora, who is from outside Miami, recalled Rizzo hitting at his old high school a couple of times last season, noting, “I’m sure he still has a lot of connections there.”
Before starting drills, the Cubs huddled together on the grass under cloudy skies following more morning rain.
“It’s an awful situation,” Almora said. “The only thing we can do is come together. Obviously we’re all here for Anthony and for that school and all those families.”