Rizzo, Heyward out of Cubs’ lineup for opener against Phillies

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Chicago Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo drops to one knee after striking out with two on base against the San Francisco Giants. (AP Photo/George Nikitin)

Over the course of a long baseball season, Cubs manager Joe Maddon believes the schedule sometimes tells him what to do.

All he has to do, Maddon said, is listen.

With the Cubs coming off a day off before starting a 10-game homestand, Maddon saw Friday’s series opener against the Philadelphia Phillies as the perfect opportunity to give first baseman Anthony Rizzo his first day off of the season.

Maddon said Friday morning that has been looking for a chance to rest Rizzo. Over the course of his managing career, Maddon  has always looked to either the front end or back of an off-day to rest players. Maddon kept Rizzo and right fielder Jason Heyward out of the line-up Friday against the Phillies, providing both with an extra day off.

Kris Bryant was inserted at first base while Matt Szczur started in right field. Maddon said he would use Rizzo if needed.

“It was a good time to just give (Rizzo) his mini All-Star break and then just have him come back fresh tomorrow,” Maddon said before Friday’s game.

Maddon said Rizzo is difficult to sit down for defensive purposes as anything. In addition to Bryant replacing Rizzo at first and Szczur in right, Maddon put Javy Baez at third base, making Maddon more comfortable with giving Rizzo the day off.

“When you’re able to move people around, give guys days off and still feel good about your defense, that’s a good thing,” Maddon said.

Rizzo was 3-for-35 on the Cubs recently completed nine-game road trip against Milwaukee, San Francisco and St. Louis with one RBI. Despite his recent slump, Rizzo is hitting .234 with 11 home runs and 35 RBI, which ranks second in the National League.

Asked what he has noticed with Rizzo offensively of late, Maddon said Rizzo has fouled off a lot of pitches that he typically drives. Rizzo has also chased after pitches out of the strike zone during the road stretch when he hit .107. But with a couple of days to rest heading into a consecutive stretch of days against the Phillies, Dodgers and Diamondbacks, Maddon said he expects a “good result” from resting Rizzo.

“You just have to expect the ups and downs of everybody during the course of the season. None of this affects or bothers me,” Maddon said. “I think  when you see this and you’re still doing well, you know he’s going to get toasty again and you’re going to reap the benefits. That’s the way I look at it.”

Follow me on Twitter @JeffArnold_.

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