Rizzo rests ailing back, might miss home opener

April 8th, 2018

MILWAUKEE -- said he's feeling better, but the Cubs first baseman did not start on Sunday and may miss Monday's home opener because of tightness in his lower back.

"[It's] better, better than yesterday, better than the day before," Rizzo said Sunday. "It's one of those things where it locks up. It's locked up worse than it has in the past. [I'm getting] treatment every day, and I don't want to re-aggravate it."

Rizzo felt some discomfort last Monday when the Cubs were in Cincinnati, and got a break when Tuesday's game was postponed because of rain. He played Thursday but his back locked up again.

"It's something that kind of gradually happens," Rizzo said. "Maybe it's from sleeping, I woke up one day and it was tighter and didn't loosen up. Usually it does [loosen up] and usually it releases, but this one grabbed on me."

Cubs manager Joe Maddon said he thought Rizzo was close to returning but also wanted to make sure the first baseman didn't aggravate it.

"I'm not overtly concerned based on talking to Riz and [athletic trainer PJ Mainville]," Maddon said. "Any time you're dealing with the back, you never know. I'm OK if it's not [Monday] because we have the off-day [on Tuesday], and that would give him two full days to rest it."

Rizzo didn't like the idea of missing Monday's home opener.

"It's definitely important and I want to play tomorrow, but at the same time, you've got to be smart," Rizzo said. "If I play tomorrow, I could set myself back 10 days, five, six days. We'll see how it goes today, and today will be a big day."

Rizzo has missed time in the past because of back issues, but usually the problem is in his upper back and he's sidelined only two days.

"It tightened up, I played [Thursday], and it tightened up again on Friday," Rizzo said. "It's just one of those things where I hope to get it under control now so it's not a grind all year."

Maddon's advice? Do less pregame.

"My biggest thing for him is I want him to do less," Maddon said. "Too many swings, too many ground balls. Just work smart and not just work. Guys like him, as you get a little older, save those moments for the game. That's the message with him and all the guys. That's why I don't like [batting practice] every day, that's why I don't like a zillion ground balls every day."