Anthony Rizzo was not expected to play this weekend against the Cardinals because of lingering tightness in his lower back. The Cubs had a day-night doubleheader Saturday and a day game Sunday in St. Louis. Rizzo has not played since he was pulled from Tuesday’s game in Cincinnati. His back tightned up that day during a 50-minute rain delay.
“I’m going to shut it down for today and tomorrow, too,” Rizzo said Saturday. “I hit, I ran. Hitting felt all right. I took two rounds, let it calm down, hit again. Then I ran for the ultimate [test]. Jogging [is a problem].
“It felt a lot better today than yesterday, so I think if we let it rest, it’ll be OK,” he said. “I don’t want to come back and then miss the rest of the season if I’m really bad. I can wait a couple days to play the rest of the season.”
So far, the diagnosis is nothing more than lower back tightness.
“I just locked up,” he said.
Rizzo has had minor back problems before but never for this long. Could he return for the Cubs’ home game Monday against the Brewers?
“It’s day to day,” Rizzo said. “I’ll be out today and tomorrow. If I wake up [Sunday], we’ll re-evaluate. But as far as baseball stuff, we’ll be done until Monday.”
Rizzo has yet to be in the same lineup as top prospect Jorge Soler, who hit two home runs Friday in the Cubs’ 7-2 win.
“This is an important month,” Rizzo said. “The better we do now, the better we go into the offseason, the better we go into Spring Training, and everyone else feels it.”
– Carrie Muskat
Felix Doubront makes his first start for the Cubs on Saturday, weather permitting. He’s the 12th different pitcher to start for the Cubs; they used nine last year. Anthony Rizzo is not in the lineup, and most likely will not play all weekend. He’s still bothered by tightness in his lower back. Here’s the lineup:
Jorge Soler has matched Javier Baez game for game, as both homered in their first game, and recorded multi-homer games in their third. They are the only Cubs in franchise history with three home runs in their first three games and join St. Louis’ Joe Cunningham (1954) as the only three big league players to do so since 1900. They are the only Cubs players in franchise history with a multi-homer game within their first three Major League games.
Elliot Soto hit a walk-off RBI single in the 11th to give Iowa a 5-4 victory over Oklahoma City and keep their playoff hopes alive. Chris Rusin started, and did not get a decision, giving up three runs over four innings. Junior Lake had two singles. Carlos Pimentel picked up the win in relief. Dallas Beeler gets the start Saturday.
Anthony Giansanti had two hits, including a home run, to help Tennessee beat Chattanooga, 6-5. Corey Black started, and gave up four earned runs over three innings. Christian Villanueva was 3-for-3 with two doubles and two RBIs. C.J. Edwards gets the start Saturday.
Dan Vogelbach hit his 16th home run and Marco Hernandez hit his third in Daytona’s 8-4 win over Tampa. Tayler Scott gave up four runs over 5 2/3 innings. Vogelbach had two hits and two RBIs. He leads the team with 75 RBIs. Yao-Lin Wang gets the start Saturday.
Kane County won its 90th game of the season, a 6-1 rain-shortened win over Cedar Rapids. Jonathan Martinez gave up one run over 5 1/3 innings. Trey Martin and Jeimer Candelario each homered. Daury Torrez gets the start Saturday.
Boise lost, 2-1, to Everett. Danny Canela had two hits and an RBI. Erick Leal gaveup one run over 5 1/3 innings. James Norwood gets the start Saturday.
Eloy Jimenez tripled and drove in two runs in Mesa’s 7-6 loss to Arizona. Jose Paulino gave up two unearned runs over five innings.
Jorge Soler belted two home runs and Javier Baez smacked a tie-breaking two-run double to power the Cubs to a 7-2 victory Friday night and wake up the Cardinals.
“They have some studs,” St. Louis starter Shelby Miller said of the revamped. “They’ve done a good job of rebuilding that offense. They’re tough, man. They have a lot of power in that lineup, and even have guys who are a little scrappy and can run. They’re definitely a tough lineup to face.”
Playing just his third big league game, Soler led off the seventh inning with his second career home run to tie the game, and he added a two-run, 442-shot in the eighth that landed on the concourse behind the left-field bleachers at Busch Stadium.
Soler is the second Cubs player in history with a multi-homer game in his first three career games; the first was Baez, who did so on Aug. 7 against the Rockies. It’s now the 24th time it’s happened in MLB history (Baez was No. 23). The last player to do so who wasn’t a Cubs rookie was the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig, who hit two homers in his second game.
Baez delivered his double with two on and nobody out in the eighth, lining a 2-2 pitch from Neshek into the gap in left-center. Neshek served up four runs in two-thirds of an inning. He had given up five runs over 55 1/3 innings this season.
“I think that’s my greatest at-bat since I came up,” Baez said. “Hopefully I keep doing it to get better.”
Kyle Hendricks was vying to become the first Cubs rookie pitcher to win five games in August, but instead did not get a decision. He did post his fifth quality start in six outings this month, and closed the month 4-0 with a 1.69 ERA. Hendricks had to work against the Cardinals, who took a 2-0 lead in the first on RBI singles by Matt Holliday and Jhonny Peralta. Hendricks needed 26 pitches that inning, and then settled into a groove where he retired 16 of the next 17 batters he faced.
“There are some innings, you go out there and make pitches and give up runs, and you can live with that,” Hendricks said. “The first inning, I wasn’t throwing any pitches with conviction.”
He talked to Cubs pitching coach Chris Bosio after the first, and, with a better mindset, went to work.
“It’s not just picking the right pitch in the right situation, it’s picking a pitch and throwing it to the glove,” he said. “The first inning I really wasn’t doing that and was just lobbing it over.”
Luis Valbuena hit a solo home run in the second and rookie Arismendy Alcantara added a solo shot in the ninth. The Cubs now have 34 home runs this month, most in the National League.
– Carrie Muskat
On Wednesday, Starlin Castro failed to run hard after hitting a ball to center, and it may have proved costly in a loss to the Reds. On Friday, Castro doubled with one out in the sixth, tried to stretch his hit, and was thrown out at third. The Cubs are working on finding a happy medium.
“Here’s a guy who everybody gets on because he doesn’t run out of the box,” Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. “He’s been hustling, he runs out of the box hard, gets to second base, and in that instance, he did everything I wanted him to do except now you have to make sure you see the ball in front of you.
“I said, ‘It’s OK in this instance to stay there,'” Renteria said. “I’ll take that and take being able to explain to him how to approach it better than him not getting over there. I think he showed everybody he’s willing to go ahead and do the things he’s supposed to. We have to do it consistently over a long period of time. At least he showed me something by trying to get over there and trying to make something happen.”
The Cubs are counting on players like Castro and Anthony Rizzo to be examples for the rookies, who aren’t much younger than the pair. General manager Jed Hoyer said he liked how Renteria handled Castro.
“First of all, I’d say, I’m really glad Starlin right away went and apologized to everyone,” Hoyer said. “He knew he messed up. I think it’s the wrong time right now, and Ricky knows this — [Castro] is going through a lot. He knows he made a mistake, he apologized to everyone. It’s not something you need to harp on.”
Hoyer complimented Castro’s play this season, saying he’s eliminated a lot of the mental mistakes.
“In some ways we’re asking a lot of those guys — we need those guys to show [the rookies] how to play,” Hoyer said of Castro and Rizzo.
– Carrie Muskat
* Outfielder Justin Ruggiano is done for the season after undergoing a debridement on his left ankle. In his first season with the Cubs, Ruggiano batted .281 in 81 games with six home runs, 13 doubles and 28 RBIs. He was placed on the disabled list Aug. 23, and had returned to Dallas to see a specialist, where he had the procedure done.
* The Cubs had more encouraging news regarding outfielder Ryan Sweeney, who was headed to Arizona to begin a rehab assignment at the team’s complex. Sweeney has been on the DL since Wednesday with a left hamstring strain.
* Manny Ramirez, who was a player/coach at Triple-A Iowa, was placed on the Minor League team’s disabled list with a knee injury. GM Jed Hoyer said they were impressed with how Ramirez mentored the young players, particularly Jorge Soler and Javier Baez.
“We feel really good about the way that the entire experience went,” Hoyer said. “He was outstanding in Iowa. People focus on Soler and Baez, but Kris Bryant, [Chris] Valaika, and the coaching staff sing his praises. I don’t know what our relationship will be going forward. It’s too early to speculate on that. I’m really happy for Manny. It seems like he’s in a really good place.”
Would Ramirez consider being a full-time hitting coach? Hoyer said the 42-year-old outfielder still wants to play.
“Until a guy is willing to admit he’s done, it’s hard to have those conversations [about coaching full time],” Hoyer said.
– Carrie Muskat
Cubs fans eager to see Kris Bryant in the same lineup as Javier Baez, Jorge Soler, Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro will have to wait. GM manager Jed Hoyer repeated that Bryant, the No. 1 prospect on MLB.com’s top 20 list, will finish his season at Triple-A Iowa and not be one of the players added when big league rosters expand on Monday.
Hoyer would not say which players will be called up. Iowa has four regular season games remaining and has a chance to make the playoffs.
Bryant, 22, batted .355 with 22 home runs and 20 doubles at Double-A Tennessee, and was batting .300 with 21 homers and 14 doubles in 66 games at Iowa. The second player taken overall in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft, he is not on the Cubs’ 40-man roster.
“He’s not on the roster, so right away [if he was called up] that would knock off another player off the roster,” Hoyer said Friday. “We’re going to be really tight with the roster, and we know that. We feel in his first full season, he’s going to get 140 plus games, he’s played exceptionally well — nothing has changed on that front [as far as calling him up].”
The fact that Bryant has done so well in his first year of professional baseball has made Cubs fans giddy about the prospect of seeing the third baseman at Wrigley Field.
“The most impressive thing about his season has been the consistency,” Hoyer said. “The slumps have been really quick. He deserves a lot of credit for being able to make adjustments quickly. I think he’s very level-headed as a person. He doesn’t get too down.
“We’ve never waivered on [the decision to leave him in the Minors],” Hoyer said. “We feel it’s the right thing for him — first full season, not on the roster, and we’ll enjoy the guys we have up here now.”
Are the Cubs hesitating to avoid starting the clock on Bryant’s service time? Hoyer said that wasn’t a factor.
“That’s not the reason or a concern,” he said.
– Carrie Muskat
Anthony Rizzo was not in the Cubs lineup Friday, missing the third straight game because of lower back tightness. Kyle Hendricks gets the start. Here’s the lineup:
On Monday, the Cubs will honor the Jackie Robinson West Little Leaguers who won the U.S. title in the Little League World Series. The kids will meet the Cubs players during batting practice, be recognized on-field before the game, throw a ceremonial first pitch, and lead the seventh inning stretch from the field.
The Chicago team lost to South Korea in the Little League world championship game, played in Williamsport, Pa. Cubs pitchers Wesley Wright and Edwin Jackson both contributed to travel expenses so the kids’ families could go to the series.
Fans coming to Wrigley Field Monday through Wednesday also can take home a Hall of Famer’s autograph for a charitable cause. Fergie Jenkins will sign autographs from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. CT at the Cubs Store across from Wrigley Field on Monday, and inside Clark’s Clubhouse Tuesday and Wednesday to raise money for the Ron and Vicki Santo Diabetic Alert Dog Foundation. Vicki Santo and Logan Burke, who was the first recipient of an alert dog from the foundation, will throw a ceremonial first pitch on Wednesday.