Ben Zobrist has been one of the better hitters for the Chicago Cubs so far this young season. Being scratched from the lineup the other day due to back tightness has some fans worried.
There were a lot of smiles around Chicago Cubs nation when Anthony Rizzo returned from the 10-day DL Tuesday evening. Unfortunately, the same ailment that Rizzo was suffering from, back tightness, began bothering Ben Zobrist and he was scratched from Tuesday’s game.
Zobrist has not been placed on the DL yet, and it does not sound serious according to ESPN’s Jesse Rogers. But caution with the 36-year old veteran is rightfully being taken. With his age and not-ideal weather conditions, it is okay to e wary of this with his this early in the season.
It is frustrating considering the Cubs are a game below .500 and Zobrist has been so productive. In 13 games he is slashing .326/.408/.465 and has been one of the more patient hitters in the lineup. If it were not for him, the Cubs might not have seven wins right now, but there is no reason to overly panic.
Assessing the situation
Zobrist’s abilities to have great at-bats and get on base have made him the current ideal leadoff man. While we hope he can get back as soon as possible and not have any issues with the back, other guys are going to have to step up as well.
It may be time for Joe Maddon to consider Albert Almora Jr. at the top of the order more often when Zobrist does not play. Ian Happ has been struggling in the leadoff spot, slashing .204/.264/.367 with 25 strikeouts in 53 plate appearances. Almora is slashing .276/.344/.861 in 32 plate appearances and has looked very solid lately when he has played. Happ moving down in the order may do good for both him and the team. Regardless him leading off has not worked outside the first pitch of the season.
Again, it is very early in the season and the Cubs have played in some terrible hitting weather. It may not be an excuse overall, but it is hard to get so down on a team just three weeks in. Even if it is admittedly frustrating at times. If Zobrist’s back truly is not serious, he should be in the lineup very soon. His value has been very important to the Cubs.