1st in last: Rizzo to start vs. Twins
Anthony Rizzo is nearing the finish line. The three-time All-Star had been hoping to get back into game action before the start of the season, and he’ll get his wish. Manager David Ross announced that he plans to have Rizzo in the starting lineup for the Cubs’ last exhibition game Wednesday against the Twins.
“Again, I don’t put the cart before the horse,’’ Ross said. ‘‘Make sure he presents well tomorrow when he wakes. He took some great swings and said he felt ready. Don’t think it’s going to be an issue for the game tomorrow. So the plan is to have him start at first base.”
Rizzo went through another full workout Tuesday, including infield drills, and faced live pitching as he hit against right-hander Tyler Chatwood in a simulated game.
Getting into the team’s last exhibition is a big final step for Rizzo, who has been dealing with lower-back tightness since July 7, and it should be the final hurdle before returning for Opening Day on Friday. The benefit the Cubs have this season is the addition of the designated hitter, allowing Rizzo to work his way back before playing the field every day.
“[We’ll] continue to listen to Anthony on that and how his body feels and the training staff with that,” Ross said. “You don’t wanna take a platinum glove off first base, but if we have to, and he feels like he needs a day, we’ll adjust.”
Ross is attempting to give his players a feel for what might lie ahead should the Cubs need some flexibility. He started Kris Bryant at first base in Monday’s exhibition against the White Sox, and Nico Hoerner, who began the night at second base, moved to shortstop, then to center field.
“The main thing for me is, with all the uncertainty with this season, we could lose anybody at any minute,’’ Ross said. ‘‘You saw KB at first. Obviously, some depth there. Moving guys around, it’s going to be important. Nico is a piece that is comfortable at second, short and, you know, just a little bit of a depth piece at center. If anything were to happen . . . moving some guys around.
A change of start
“There’s no telling. You might lose a guy for an extended period of time or even just a day. We’ve got to be prepared for anything this season. And, like I said, we’ve got a lot of flexibility in this roster, and we’ve got to take advantage of it.”
Right-hander Alec Mills will throw live batting practice Wednesday. He was scheduled to be paired with Jon Lester ina tandem start against the Twins. Mills, 26, is in line to be the fifth starter.
He showed flashes during his stint with the Cubs in 2019, going 1-0 with a 2.75 ERA in nine games (four starts).
Mills would be in line to face the Reds on Tuesday.