Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo is battling an injury that could jeopardize his chances of being in the team’s lineup on Opening Day, Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune reports. Rizzo underwent an MRI on Wednesday that confirmed rib head swelling on his left side. He’s dealing with back spasms as a result of the swelling.
Rizzo, whose back has troubled him in the past, noted it’s a “frustrating” problem, adding, “I just can’t control the flare ups.” However, that doesn’t mean the 30-year-old will start the season on the injured list. Rizzo, manager David Ross and the Cubs’ training staff will continue to monitor his status leading up to the team’s July 24 opener.
Of course, in a shortened season, it becomes even more important for the Cubs to have a healthy Rizzo helping lead their offense. The three-time All-Star and beloved clubhouse presence turned in yet another impressive season in 2019, batting .293/.405/.520 (141 wRC+) with 27 home runs in 613 plate appearances. That type of production obviously can’t be replaced with ease, but if Rizzo does miss time at the beginning of the season, odds are the Cubs will deploy third baseman/outfielder Kris Bryant and catcher Victor Caratini at first base, Gonzales suggests.