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Cubs’ Ben Zobrist sidelined again by sore back, hopes to play Friday in Colorado

Zobrist

Cubs veteran Ben Zobrist missed another game Thursday because of stiffness in his back and said after the game that he expects his status for Friday’s series opener in Colorado to be a game-day decision.

“It’s something that you’ve just got to be careful with,” said Zobrist, who improved enough by Thursday that he was available to pinch-hit if the Cubs had needed him in their 8-5 win over the Cardinals. “I have a little bit of history now of some back-spasm stuff. So I’ve just got to be careful and not make it something bigger than it is.”

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Zobrist called this bout with the back more “muscular” than the weekslong issue he had at the start of spring training, when his lower back “felt like it was stuck,” he said.

“This doesn’t feel stuck. It just feels sore,” said Zobrist, 36, who plans to test the back again early Friday to determine whether he’s ready to field a position.

Zobrist was a late scratch from the lineup the previous time the Cubs played, on Tuesday. He was originally in the lineup as the leadoff hitter Tuesday, and manager Joe Maddon said he would have had Zobrist leading off Thursday if they hadn’t decided to keep him out again.