Anthony Rizzo hasn’t played for the Chicago Cubs in over a week, and he won’t be playing again any time soon. After days of lower back stiffness that precluded him from doing the normal things a baseball player has to be able to do in order to compete, Rizzo got an MRI yesterday, which revealed a lower back strain. He’s expected to be out 10 days or more (Cubs.com).
In my completely non-medical opinion, a lower back strain sure feels like better news than some kind of disc or vertebrae or whatever other kind of issue or bad scenario you can imagine. Sure, you’d rather there was nothing at all, but at least the Cubs and Rizzo now know what he’s dealing with. Rest is usually sufficient to overcome this kind of thing, and Theo Epstein pointed out that there’s nothing to be worried about in terms of a chronic issue.
Ideally, you’d like to see Rizzo come back healthy at the end of the year and put a punctuation mark on what has been a truly breakthrough, incredible season. Obviously, being healthy for 2015 is what matters most, and it’s not like Rizzo is going to suffer from a lack of confidence if he has to close out the year on the shelf. But I can imagine that it would still feel good to take the season end to end, knowing that you’ve had a great year, and you finished strong and healthy.
That said, Rizzo definitely has the right attitude about the injury, which I’m sure is frustrating. Even if the back issue ends his season, Rizzo is prepared to look ahead.
“If I am shut down, I’m shut down,” Rizzo said, per Cubs.com. “My main concern is being full strength in the offseason and getting ready for next year. Obviously, I want to come back and play – it’s not fun sitting around and watching. We’re not going to go crazy and rush to get back and have it re-occur over and over. We want this to be the first and last time it ever happens.”
On the season, Rizzo is hitting .278/.375/.514 with a .386 wOBA an a 146 wRC+. He’s among the league leaders in most offensive categories, and has already posted a 4.2 WAR, according to FanGraphs. Whatever happens with this back issue as far as September goes, once he’s fully healthy heading into next season … yeah, you can hope for big things from a guy who just turned 25.