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starlin castro featureWhile the timing of their recent losing ways wasn’t entirely coterminous with the injuries, it’s clear that the Chicago Cubs are missing Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro. Sure, it’s nice to see a couple additional youngsters get playing time, and, sure, winning games right now isn’t the end-all-be-all of “success.” But you can’t take a couple All-Stars out of the lineup without expecting some impact. And, let’s be honest, it was fun to watch the Cubs when they were winning.

So, will the Cubs have the duo back before the end of the season?

Rizzo has been dealing with a back strain since August 26, which initially was just stiffness, but which lingered longer than expected. Castro hurt his ankle on an awkward slide last week, and tests revealed a high ankle sprain. Rizzo was questionable to return this year, and Castro was something closer to doubtful.

On Rizzo, the news is tentatively good. For the first time since he was shut down (when the MRI revealed a strain, after a few failed attempts at baseball activities), Rizzo took grounders and swings (Cubs.com, Tribune). Rizzo is hoping to be able to return by the weekend, but Rick Renteria wasn’t committing to anything. It sounds like the Cubs are going to be very conservative with Rizzo’s health, as they should be. So, if Rizzo returns this year – which now looks like a strong possibility, without a setback – you’ll know he’s feeling 100%.

On Castro, the story is mostly the same. It’s virtually impossible to return, safely, from a high ankle sprain in just four weeks, but Castro very much wants to get back on the field, even if only for a game (Tribune). Castro is healing well, but it’s just an injury that takes time. We’ll see where he is in another couple weeks, but I wouldn’t bet on a return this year. And that’s OK.

For each guy, being healthy and ready for 2015 is the obvious priority. But having the opportunity to finish a great 2014 season on the field, and feeling like they’ve put together a full year end to end, would understandably be a positive thing. For that reason, I hope each can return, even if I won’t feel any disappointment if they can’t. I’ll be just as pleased with their 2014 seasons, and excited for their 2015 seasons, either way.

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