Chicago Cubs: Anthony Rizzo suffers typical back woes at Summer Camp
Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo was sidelined from camp due to lower back tightness on Tuesday.
In a very typical, middle of Summer, Chicago Cubs news story, first baseman Anthony Rizzo is once again fighting back problems. The team will evaluate his condition on Wednesday, but it’s likely to be the same issue he deals with each season, meaning the Cubs will play it on a day-by-day basis.
Last year, Rizzo went out in May and August with back issues for a few games, but it’s yet to be a significant issue for the first basemen. In previous seasons, despite injuries, he’s always managed at least 140 games since his first full season in 2013. Plus, aside from his back, he’s in the best shape of his life after losing 25+ pounds while in quarantine.
Of course, given that the Cubs have only 60 games to earn a playoff spot this year, it’s all the more critical that Rizzo takes the time to rest now before the season starts. Missing a few games here and there, while not devastating in a 162 game grind, could alter the trajectory for the team in a shortened season.
Moreover, there’s less urgency to overcome injuries in camp now than there might be in the midst of a 60 game sprint. For Rizzo or any baseball player, for that matter, there’s more pressure than ever to get back out on the field as quickly as possible. Rushing back on the field before his back fully heals could turn an already bad situation into a nightmare scenario in this unique environment.
Still, if something were to happen during the season, the team isn’t without options. The Cubs have often tapped Victor Caratini to take over at first when Rizzo goes down, and last year he took a big step forward at the plate, jumping from a 65 wRC+ in 2018 to a 108. Obviously, it’s not an ideal setup to be without your gold glove, slugging first baseman anyways. Still, the team has to have that next man up mentality to stay afloat should this come up, and Caratini’s versatility could be a difference-maker here.
On paper, this injury shouldn’t concern you for Rizzo’s availability on Opening Day, but even small injuries could jeopardize the Chicago Cubs’ season this year. He must get adequate treatment now while the games don’t matter, so there’s less of a possibility of losing him down the stretch. For now, though, there’s no reason to panic over our captain.