First baseman Anthony Rizzo was back in the lineup and hitting third for the Cubs on Tuesday against the Padres. Rizzo had missed the last six games with tightness in his lower back, something he occasionally has dealt with the last few years.
Getting Rizzo back in the lineup should be a boost for a Cubs offense that has been able to manage while he has been out. Rizzo entered the game slashing .258/.366/.800 with five home runs and 19 RBI and singled in the first two at-bats of his return.
“It’s that part of the year where you take that couple extra days rest, let him fully calm down and get everything back where it needs to be body wise,” Rizzo said after the game. “But happy to be back with the boys today.”
‘‘As long as he’s healthy and feeling good, we’ll listen to that and let him play,’’ manager David Ross said. ‘‘If there’s days where it’s barking, he’ll come in and talk to me. If I see body language where it feels like he can’t bend down and get ground balls or get his A-swing off, then we’ll monitor that accordingly.
‘‘That’s no different than everybody else. Once I put them in the lineup, I feel free that they’re able to play until they tell me they’re not with the back stuff.”
The Cubs have had a tough couple of weeks dealing with injuries. But with Rizzo returning and a few other players on the verge of coming back, too, their luck might be starting to turn.
Outfielders Jason Heyward (strained left hamstring) and Jake Marisnick (strained right hamstring) are set to begin rehab assignments Wednesday at Triple-A Iowa, Ross said. If things go well, both will meet the team in San Francisco later this week.
Infielders Matt Duffy (tightness in lower back) and Nico Hoerner (strained left hamstring) are behind Heyward and Marisnick, but both have made progress in recent days. Duffy did some light work on the field before the game Tuesday and has been taking swings off the tee.
Left-hander Justin Steele (strained right hamstring) threw a 10-pitch bullpen a few days ago and will throw another this week.
‘‘These guys are professional,’’ Ross said. ‘‘I would say I attribute that to the character of the guys that are coming up and the guys we have. The veterans, the stars we have, the world champions in the room, they are bringing that energy. They’re cheering [each other] on [and] helping them. The other guys [that are coming up] are great dudes. They’re hard-working, they listen and they understand their role.’’
He said it
‘‘I think it’s huge. It’s huge for the makeup of the clubhouse, and I think that transcends onto the field. When you walk in, Rizzo is dapping you up and saying, ‘Welcome,’ and you’ve got Heyward doing the same thing. When you see those guys first when you step in and they make you feel relaxed and comfortable, it kind of sets it up for later down the road.’’ — Third baseman Patrick Wisdom, on young players making an impact