Sigh of relief: Rizzo sore, but not seriously hurt
The Cubs decided to play it safe Wednesday night with Anthony Rizzo.
And they continued to play it safe with Brett Jackson.
Keeping both out of the starting lineup for a meaningless game at Houston was a good idea. Rizzo was said to be quite sore after a nasty-looking collision at first base Tuesday night, when he got tangled up with Astros first baseman Brett Wallace while running out a groundball.
Rizzo landed on his upper body and was suffering from soreness in his right shoulder and upper back. With an off-day on the schedule Thursday — the Cubs' first after 20 games in 20 days — Rizzo gets two days to rest, although Cubs manager Dale Sveum said that Rizzo would be available to pinch hit Wednesday night.
"We'll see him Friday for sure, I think," Sveum told Keith Moreland on the WGN radio pregame show. "He went in and took some swings today.
"He's just banged up, just like a collision at home plate. It looked awful, obviously, on the replay and in fast motion. We all thought something major was going to be wrong. Count our blessings that nothing's wrong. Just a little bit of soreness on his right side."
Jackson had not played since bruising his right knee Friday while crashing into the wall making a catch at Pittsburgh. He began taking batting practice earlier this week, and he could be ready to go by Friday afternoon's series opener at Wrigley Field against the Pirates.
Cutting back Cubs-Sox:
The Cubs' 2013 schedule features some new twists. The best is a shortening of the Cubs-White Sox interleague series.
Instead of playing the White Sox three times at Wrigley Field and three times at U.S. Cellular Field, the two teams will play on four straight days in May. They'll face each other at the Cell May 27 and 28. The next two days, they'll play at Wrigley Field.
This is an arrangement I've been advocating for a few years. The old setup had gotten old, too much of a good thing, if you will. Many fans had grown indifferent, and the two series didn't seem to be a favorite of the teams, either.
Might was well call this one the Caravan Series.
As far as the rest of the schedule, the Cubs will open April 1 at Pittsburgh. The home opener is April 8 against the Brewers.
They get the American League West for the remainder of interleague play. It's hard to believe that since interleague play began in 1997 the Cubs have not played in Oakland. That changes next year, as the Cubs visit the Athletics, July 2-4.
They'll trade home series with the Angels, at Wrigley July 9-10 and at Anaheim June 4-5. The Cubs will go to Seattle again June 28-30.
And oh yes, the Houston Astros are on the schedule. They'll visit Wrigley Field as an AL team June 21-23.
Speed it up, please:
If you feel you've just gotten through with a tooth extraction after watching Cubs games on the just-concluded road trip, you should. There have been some real tooth-pullers, and you have to wonder whatever happened to MLB Commissioner Bud Selig's efforts to speed up games.
Here are some of the game times on this trip: 3 hours, 30 minutes, 3:50, 3:21, 3:34. And those were nine-inning games. It seems a three-hour night is a moral victory these days.
Expanded rosters play a part. So do rookie pitchers not throwing strikes and endless visits to the pitcher's mound by the Astros manager and pitching coach.
At least we don't have to worry about the Yankees and the Red Sox, with their four-hour marathons, in the playoffs this year.
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