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Rizzo status uncertain as back pain flares again

Anthony Rizzo

MIAMI – Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo missed Thursday’s series opener in Miami because of the back stiffness that forced him out of Wednesday’s game, and the two-time All-Star doesn’t seem to have a strong sense of when he’ll return to the lineup.

“It just needs to loosen up,” said Rizzo, who missed a game two weeks ago in Atlanta with tightness near the same lower-back area.

But, he said, “This is totally different than what it was before,” suggesting it could take a few more days.

“It’s just a different feeling,” he said. “I’ve had this before. It’s probably just a matter of being smart and being cautious about it.”

Manager Joe Maddon, who didn’t hesitate to start first-week rookie Willson Contreras at first and bat him in Rizzo’s cleanup spot, seemed confident it’s a short-term, day-to-day issue with Rizzo – as opposed to yet another DL move for the banged-up hitting roster.

“I don’t think it’s anything significant more than stiffness,” Maddon said. “As of right now, it is not a concern.”