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Rizzo likely to return Monday for Cards opener

On DL with tight back, Cubs' 1B ramping up activity in hopes of making Wrigley debut
Special to MLB.com

CHICAGO -- Anthony Rizzo has yet to play a game at Wrigley Field this season, but that is expected to change in a matter of days.

The Cubs' All-Star first baseman remains on the 10-day disabled list with back tightness, which has prevented him from playing this week against the Pirates and Braves. But with Rizzo eligible to return on Monday against the Cardinals, Cubs manager Joe Maddon said before Saturday's game against Atlanta that everything continues to point to an on-time return.

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CHICAGO -- Anthony Rizzo has yet to play a game at Wrigley Field this season, but that is expected to change in a matter of days.

The Cubs' All-Star first baseman remains on the 10-day disabled list with back tightness, which has prevented him from playing this week against the Pirates and Braves. But with Rizzo eligible to return on Monday against the Cardinals, Cubs manager Joe Maddon said before Saturday's game against Atlanta that everything continues to point to an on-time return.

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"He's doing good -- he's doing really good," said Maddon, who said Rizzo has amped up his activity in the batting cage in recent days. "He's walking and he's smiling and he's happy, and his work has been really good in the weight room. So he should be on schedule to come back on time."

In Rizzo's absence, the Cubs have used Ben Zobrist, Kris Bryant and Victor Caratini at first base. Caratini was originally slated to start on Saturday before center fielder Albert Almora Jr. -- who missed Friday's 4-0 loss to the Braves due to illness -- was deemed healthy enough to play. The move shifted leadoff hitter Ian Happ to left field and Zobrist from left field to first base.

Video: ATL@CHC: Bryant snags Inciarte's grounder in the 1st

Almora, along with Happ, Bryant and second baseman Javier Baez, has been among the bright spots in a Cubs lineup that has been inconsistent over the first 13 games of the season. Braves starter Anibal Sanchez and the bullpen limited the Cubs to four hits on Friday, which marked the third time this season the Cubs have been shut out.

Entering Saturday, the Cubs ranked 16th in the Major Leagues with a .235 team batting average. Bryant was hitting .333, while Baez has homered four times and driven in 10 runs. But as on and off as the Cubs' offensive production has been, Maddon expects things to turn around at some point.

Video: Baez blasts off for four homers vs. the Pirates

"It's just a part of the season," Maddon said Saturday. "It happens to everybody at some point -- it's happening to us right now. Typically, like we did last year, we've had a couple of really good games where we put up some nice numbers, and all of a sudden, the next day, you have nothing. The spigot turns on and off.

"I have a lot of faith in everybody, in our hitters -- they're still growing, they're still young. But I want to believe that at some point we're going to gain a lot of consistency during the course of this year that we're never going to lose again."

Jeff Arnold is a contributor to MLB.com based in Chicago.

Chicago Cubs, Anthony Rizzo