Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo (back) sidelined again, doubtful for home opener Monday
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MILWAUKEE — The Cubs don’t think first baseman Anthony Rizzo will need even a short stay on the disabled list for his sore lower back.
But Rizzo was out of the lineup for a third consecutive game Sunday against the Brewers, and his status for the Cubs’ home opener Monday against the Pirates is doubtful.
‘‘It’s definitely important to me; I want to play tomorrow,’’ Rizzo said before the finale of the Cubs’ four-game series at Miller Park. ‘‘At the same time, you want to be smart. You can’t play tomorrow and set myself back 10 days — or five or six days.’’
Rizzo, who first experienced the pain during a game last Monday in Cincinnati, said he felt well enough to play through it Thursday before the tightness got worse Friday.
He hasn’t played since, and with near-freezing temperatures in the forecast early Monday, the Cubs aren’t likely to take any chances with him. The forecast calls for the weather to improve dramatically by the second game of the series Wednesday.
‘‘Honestly, at this point, I’m not overly concerned, based on talking to Rizzo and [the head trainer],’’ manager Joe Maddon said. ‘‘But anytime you’re dealing with a back, you never know.
‘‘I’m OK if it’s not [Monday], just because we have the off-day [Tuesday], and then it really gives him a full opportunity to rest it.’’
Rizzo typically has a bout of back pain that costs him a game or two annually. It’s worse this time, he said, and it’s not in the usual upper-back area.
Rizzo said the back had improved in the last two days and said he expected Sunday to be a ‘‘big day’’ to see how he responds to another round of treatment.
Because he played Thursday, if Rizzo were to be put on the 10-day disabled list, he would be ineligible to play until next Monday. That means he would miss five games he and the team seem confident he’ll be well enough play.
‘‘It feels good,’’ Rizzo said. ‘‘The only thing I’m worried about is playing in [the cold] and not feeling good the next day. But it’s just more about managing it than getting it to go away fully.’’
NOTES: Brewers starter Chase Anderson historically has given several Cubs fits, but not utility player Ben Zobrist. Zobrist went 2-for-3 against Anderson to raise his career numbers against him to 9-for-17. That included Zobrist’s third home run against Anderson, a shot off the right-field foul pole leading off the fourth.
• Catcher Willson Contreras is 5-for-9 against Anderson after doubling in the second, getting hit by a pitch in the fourth and hitting into a double play in the sixth. Contreras also tripled in the eighth against Adrian Houser.
• After throwing all of two pitches and not having a save opportunity in the Cubs’ first seven games, closer Brandon Morrow is 2-for-2 in save chances in the last two games. That included a 1-2-3 ninth Sunday.
• Morrow’s performance capped another scoreless game for the Cubs’ bullpen (three perfect innings). That lowered the best bullpen ERA in the majors to 0.94.