Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo wants to play on opening day, scheduled for later this month, but he may not be ready by then. As Brett Taylor of Bleacher Nation reported on Thursday, Rizzo doesn't want to push himself to come back early because it may exacerbate his current back injury.
The Cubs' team captain has a long history of back troubles, spanning most of his major league career. He typically misses a few games every season when the injury flares up. This year, it flared shortly after players reported to 2020's version of spring training at the beginning of July.
Rizzo has had to sit out several consecutive workouts because of his bad back. His frustration and confusion over the issue led him to get an MRI on Wednesday. The results of that test aren't officially known, but the player believes it's not all that serious and won't be something that continually plagues him... as long as he's careful.
"We're kind of just getting this calmed down and I'll get back out there as fast as I can," Rizzo said, per Cubs.com. "I've managed through a lot, but we're going to take it day-to-day. I'd rather miss a couple of games early, if necessary, than a big chunk."
He added that he and the training staff don't think the issue is that different than it has been in previous years. That's important because he's managed to log 150 or more games per season for the last few years in spite of his back bothering him.On Thursday Rizzo took part in the Cubs workout to the best of his ability, stepping in against several different pitchers. Cubs insider Jordan Bastion reported on Twitter that the first baseman took three "at-bats" during the team's live batting practice.
It was clear that he was taking it easy. The player saw 14 pitches and didn't swing at any of them, laying down five bunts instead. The reporter said he didn't take any full swings.
With the 2020 season opener just eight days away, the Cubs are not optimistic their starting first baseman will be ready to go out of the gate. Other than his at-bats on Thursday, Rizzo hasn't taken part in practices for over a week.
Bastian also said he talked to the team's general manager, Jed Hoyer, who said the front office was "unclear" on Rizzo's availability for opening day. Hoyer reiterated that they don't want to lose even more time by rushing Rizzo back before his body is ready.