Anthony Rizzo (back) wasn’t in the Cubs lineup against the White Sox last night and won’t be in there again tonight. He’s still technically dealing with some back issues, which were familiar to all Cubs fans when they popped up earlier this month, but also incredibly poorly timed, with the shortened season set to kick off against the Brewers on Friday.
As you can imagine, Rizzo really wants to be ready for that game. And seeing as every games effectively counts for 2.7 games this season, so do we.
#Cubs Rizzo: being the Opening Day starter for the Chicago Cubs means a lot to me
— Taylor McGregor (@Taylor_McGregor) July 19, 2020
But there’s good news on that front.
After an aggressive day on Saturday and batting practice without restrictions yesterday, Rizzo is angling to come back for the Cubs final exhibition game against the Twins on Wednesday.
Obviously, if he plays in the game and everything feels good on the off-day, Thursday, he’ll be ready to go this weekend. That is not the plan yet, so to speak – we’re still in the optimism phase (and players are almost always a little more optimistic than, say, trainers) – but Rizzo is a veteran who’s dealt with these sort of issues before. If he’s “very optimistic” for Wednesday, it’s okay to get a little excited about the possibility.
Anthony Rizzo said he's "very optimistic" he will be in the Cubs lineup for the final exhibition game Wednesday night. He wants to see some live at-bats against other teams, but will see how his back responds Monday and Tuesday.
— Tony Andracki (@TonyAndracki23) July 19, 2020
Rizzo "definitely" wants to play Wednesday vs. Twins, but taking it day to day. Optimistic he'll be able to play that game, though.
— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) July 19, 2020
Today and tomorrow will be the two most important days for that game, and then if he does play Wednesday, we’ll have to hold our collective breath until a lineup is released on Friday.
Indeed, David Ross has a very tricky balance to strike here, because Rizzo surely wants (and could use) at least the one game of live action against pitchers not on his team, but also that sort of decision could always back fire if he wasn’t quite ready to return just yet. Moreover, for a veteran who may not need the 3-4 extra plate appearances as much as the next guy, taking things very cautiously with respect to Wednesday night would also be just fine to me. But hey, for now, the word is optimism and that’s just where I’m going to stay.
For what it’s worth, Rizzo is 1-6 with a walk and two Ks against the Brewers Opening Day starter, Brandon Woodruff.