Anthony Rizzo optimistic he’ll be ready for Opening Day
Rizzo went through a full workout Sunday without any restrictions or setbacks. He has been sidelined by lower-back tightness since July 7.
Anthony Rizzo is ready for Opening Day on Friday. On Sunday, he took an important step toward a return to the Cubs’ lineup.
Rizzo went through a full workout before the Cubs’ exhibition against the White Sox without any restrictions or setbacks. He has been sidelined by lower-back tightness since July 7.
“Today, I knew going in that it was going to be a big day,’’ Rizzo said. ‘‘Pushed it a little yesterday, but today I really pushed it. Feels great. I was hitting today with really no pain at all, which is good.”
“He had good energy today. Great swings. The BP, nothing but good feedback,” manager David Ross said. “He bounced around well, moved his feet, stretched. I think there was one ball that popped out and he bent down really fast, picked it up and was still able to throw the guy out. Which told me he looks great and feels great.”
The big test for Rizzo and the Cubs will be how his back responds to his increased workload on Monday. Rizzo says the plan is to have an active recovery day and evaluate from there.
The Cubs will have to manage how they keep Rizzo’s back under control during the shortened 2020 season to have him for the long haul. If Rizzo is unable to start the season on Day 1, Victor Caratini, who started at first base Sunday, would likely see a lot of time there.
But with his back issues becoming a regular thing over the last few seasons, Rizzo knows he and the team need to play it safe, especially after aggravating the back last week.
“Missing [games] is a lot smarter than potentially putting yourself at risk to miss a big chunk,’’ he said. ‘‘A big chunk is 10 games or two weeks this year. Opening Day does mean a lot to me, to be the Opening Day starter for the Chicago Cubs, and that’s the goal. With how I felt today and how I was moving today, it’s definitely in the right direction toward being a reality.”
The Cubs have two more exhibitions — on Monday against the Sox and Wednesday against the Twins. Rizzo is still holding out hope that he can play Wednesday before the opener.
“I’d definitely love to play Wednesday to get live at-bats off a different team,” Rizzo said. “Just gotta keep it day-to-day. I’m very optimistic that I’ll be in there. . . . That’s definitely a short-term goal.”
Hendricks allows three runs
Right-hander Kyle Hendricks tossed 4⅔ innings against the Sox in his final outing before the season opener Friday against the Brewers.
He was named the Cubs’ Opening Day starter by Ross on Friday.
Hendricks, who allowed three earned runs and six hits, walked one and struck out two, avoided loud contact most of the night and didn’t run into trouble until the fifth inning, when he allowed three hits, including Adam Engel’s solo home run.