Cubs

Blame the mattress for the sore back? ‘Ridiculous!’ Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo says

Keep your mattress to yourself, Bill from Schaumburg. That goes for you, too, excitable sports talk radio host.

Anthony Rizzo’s back will be just fine by the time he gets to that next hotel room on the road.

“Ridiculous,” the Cubs’ achy first baseman said of all the deep analysis and airtime devoted this week to the mattress quality at hotels in Cincinnati after he casually mentioned that’s where his back started bothering him last week

It was just a throwaway line, he said. “But people decided to run with it,” said Rizzo. “It doesn’t just happen in Cincinnati.”

Rizzo, left, said he understands Joe Maddon's principle of less batting practice -- especially since Rizzo's back is tight again -- but he doesn't plan major changes to his practice routine.

Rizzo, who’s expected to return from the 10-day disabled list as soon as he’s eligible on Monday, took swings off a tee Thursday as he tested his lower back during a lengthy workout.

There is no simple, single reason for why his back tightens annually, he said, or why in this case it lasted more than the usual one or two days – least of all a single mattress.

“You have certain hotels where you wake up and you’re a little more stiff,” he said. “But we played a 17-inning game, we had a long road trip, traveling, the beginning of the season – it’s a number of things.”

It’s not hard to understand the consternation and attention Rizzo’s back is drawing from the Cub faithful – and organization.

The three-time All-Star is the left-handed half of the right-left, Kris Bryant-Rizzo tandem the lineup is built around.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon has talked to Rizzo about taking fewer swings in the batting cage as part of his routine.

“I believe guys swing too much,” said Maddon, who said he heard the crack of the bat in the indoor cage when he got to the ballpark for the home opener at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday. “I don’t think Billy [Williams] did that. I don’t think [Ron] Santo did that. I don’t think Ernie [Banks] did that. They probably didn’t even have a batting cage to do that in.

“The point of diminishing returns always sets in, whether it’s physically or mentally,” he added. “I think you should do enough, not more than enough. With Anthony I’m trying to convince him to back off, no pun intended, a little bit, because swinging too often can actually exaggerate the issue I think.”

Rizzo said he agrees with the principle, but he’s not going to dramatically change his routine. Even with the recurring issue, swinging has not tended to specifically bother his back, he said.

“Guys do tend to hit a lot, and I’ll fall into that category a couple times throughout the year,” he said. “But I try to limit my swings and stay as fresh as I can.

“I’m going to do whatever I do. I’ve been doing the same thing for 10 years of my professional career, especially the last four or five years, I’ve had the same routine,” he said. “I don’t know if I’m necessarily going to change that. I’ll tweak it. But I’ll probably just stick with what I know best.”

And if the mattresses start showing up in the mail?

“Hey, the more the merrier,” he said.