Well, we don’t *quite* have 100% confirmation, but as the official MLB Transaction Page indicates, it sure looks like the Chicago Cubs have sent/are sending first baseman and team leader Anthony Rizzo to the 10-Day disabled list, retroactive to April 6 – the day after last game he played:
Rizzo expected to go on DL, backdated to Friday. He would be eligible to open series vs. Cards Monday.
— Gordon Wittenmyer (@GDubCub) April 9, 2018
Fortunately, because he’s been out of action over the past few days, Rizzo will only have to sit out six more games (if he’s healthy and ready to go), which means he should be back in time for the Cubs series against the Cardinals at Wrigley Field starting next Monday.
Unfortunately, that means he’ll miss all six games against the Pirates and Braves coming up over the next week. And, of course, while the Cubs have the positional versatility to cover his absence, he is a force in the heart of the Cubs lineup and a Gold Glove winning first baseman, too. That’s not something you can replace.
Oh, and perhaps most importantly, you don’t love seeing a lower back injury like the one Rizzo has been dealing with linger on this long. They are notoriously tricky to shake and are the type of injury that could affect his performance at the plate.
You might recall Rizzo dealing with back injuries in the past, but those were all upper-back related and less severe. Here’s what Brett had to say about it yesterday:
I didn’t know that Rizzo’s previous issues were upper back, which explains why it would subside relatively quickly. Lower back stuff, man, it’s just a different animal. It can linger and re-emerge without warning, and then can also disappear relatively quickly (but very unpredictably). That would also explain why there’s so much uncertainty about when Rizzo will return. But if you try to do too much with lower back tightness, you can seriously injure that thing.
For what it’s worth, Rizzo’s uncharacteristically bad early season numbers seem to have been affected by the back issue: 107/.219/.214 (though, to be sure, it’s only a sample of 32 plate appearances).
In the meantime, I suspect we’ll see Ben Zobrist get some time at first base – which works out given his hot bat – and we might still see Victor Caratini there every now and then too.
As for a corresponding roster move, nothing has been announced yet, but the Cubs could go with an infielder at Triple-A like David Bote (who’s already on the 40-man roster). Bote, 25, plays first base and slashed .272/.353/.438 at Double-A last season. But even if Bote is the one who gets the call, I doubt he’ll start too often. He’s simply the easy/logical choice given his position on the field and roster.
Alternatively, as Cubs Insider guesses, the Cubs could go with back-up, back-up catcher Chris Gimenez, freeing up Victor Caratini to be used more freely at first base. (As has been pointed out in the comments below, Gimenez would need to be added to the 40-man roster to be called up, but the Cubs current 40-man roster sits at 38 by my count, so that wouldn’t be much of an issue).
Alternatively (x2), the Cubs could go with an extra reliever – they have nine straight games without an off-day coming up – but with the off-day today, everyone should be pretty well rested.
We’ll have more on this later, but for now, there’s the highlights. I’ll update this post if more information becomes available.