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Zobrist given 2nd start off for neck stiffness

Cubs infielder enters off bench Tuesday, hits RBI single
MLB.com @CarrieMuskat

CHICAGO -- It's been a struggle for Cubs veteran Ben Zobrist to stay healthy this season, but he is expected back in the lineup on Wednesday.

Zobrist was scratched from Monday's game because of a stiff neck, and the infielder had expected to start on Tuesday against the Reds, but manager Joe Maddon decided to give him another day.

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CHICAGO -- It's been a struggle for Cubs veteran Ben Zobrist to stay healthy this season, but he is expected back in the lineup on Wednesday.

Zobrist was scratched from Monday's game because of a stiff neck, and the infielder had expected to start on Tuesday against the Reds, but manager Joe Maddon decided to give him another day.

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Zobrist did enter the game off the bench and worked a leadoff walk in the eighth before knocking in a run in the ninth of the Cubs' 2-1 loss.

"I thought one more day might be wise," Maddon said before the game. "I want this guy well in September and October. He's so impactful in the latter part of the season, and he's coming off a myriad of injuries this year, that I didn't want to exacerbate things."

Zobrist, 36, was bothered earlier this season by a sore left wrist, and has appeared in 86 games.

"It's been tough, a very tough and difficult year for me physically to feel good out there," Zobrist said. "This is one other thing. I'm trying to get back to whole health and feel like I can go out there and do what I can."

What caused the neck problem?

"Who knows?" Zobrist said. "It could be [bad] pillows."

Russell taking caution in recovery
Addison Russell, on the disabled list with a right foot strain, did some light running and hit in the batting cages on Tuesday. The shortstop said there's no timetable for his return.

"I'm feeling a little bit better," Russell said. "I'm trying to take this slow. I don't want any setbacks."

He's been sidelined since Aug. 3 and was eligible to come off the DL on Sunday. However, he's taking his time.

"I don't think there's any rush right now," Russell said. "I'm just going with how my body feels."

The plus side to being sidelined now is that Russell could be fresh late in the season.

"He'll know [when he's ready]," Maddon said of Russell. "It's definitely trending properly, based on my discussion with him yesterday. I don't have a definitive finish line yet."

Unusual shift for facing Votto
Maddon used four outfielders against the Reds' Joey Votto on Monday and may do so again. All the statistical data supported the defensive alignment, in which third baseman Kris Bryant moved to the gap in left-center.

Video: Must C Curious: Votto beats four-man outfield shift

"When you look at your charts, where does [Votto] hit the ball? And how often does he hit the ball there?" Maddon said. "Why cover where the guy doesn't hit the ball? That's the essence of a shift."

Maddon and bench coach Dave Martinez came up with the idea to use four outfielders during their pregame talk Monday. It's something they employed in Tampa Bay against David Ortiz and Jim Thome.

Extra bases
• Reliever Koji Uehara, on the DL since Wednesday with a neck strain, played catch Tuesday for the second day since he was sidelined. There is no timetable for his return.

• The Cubs' athletic training staff hosted a PLAY event at Wrigley Field involving children with Down syndrome. PLAY is the "Promoting a Lifetime of Activity for Youth" campaign formed to raise awareness about children's health issues and the obesity epidemic in the United States.

Cubs staff joined the Ruderman Family Foundation, the Taylor Hooton Foundation and Henry Schein Cares Foundation to Educate Area Youth About the Importance of Leading Healthy and Active Lives. The PLAY campaign is made possible by the support and participation of Major League Baseball Charities, the Taylor Hooton Foundation and the Henry Schein Cares Foundation.

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast.

Chicago Cubs, Ben Zobrist