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Morning Mound Visit: Anthony Rizzo extension talks fall through

Rizzo appears headed for free agency; MLB relaxes safety protocols; Why Masahiro Tanaka returned to Japan

Colorado Rockies v Chicago Cubs Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

Josh Timmers | Bleed Cubbie Blue: Anthony Rizzo instructed his agents to cut off extension negotiations. Rizzo doesn’t want negotiations to present a distraction once the season starts, and said, “I’ve told them I don’t even want to hear anything unless it’s as close to what we think is right. They know not to talk to me about it anymore at all.

Alden Gonzalez | ESPN: MLB has relaxed COVID-19 protocols for vaccinated players. Teams that achieve 85 percent full vaccination among Tier 1 employees may gather indoors without masks (including the dugout), carpool together, eat together at restaurants, and stay at personal residences on the road.

Scott Davis | Yahoo! Sports: It was already known that one of the reasons Masahiro Tanaka decided to return to NPB is America’s mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic, but Tanaka also revealed he and his family experienced anti-Asian racism which only increased during the pandemic.