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updated: 9/2/2014 6:53 PM

Bad back could knock Rizzo out for rest of season

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  • Cubs first-baseman Anthony Rizzo could be knocked out for the rest of the season by a bad back. "We're going to be cautious with him," said Cubs President Theo Epstein.

    Cubs first-baseman Anthony Rizzo could be knocked out for the rest of the season by a bad back. "We're going to be cautious with him," said Cubs President Theo Epstein.
    Associated Press file photo


It's possible the Cubs could shut down first baseman Anthony Rizzo for the rest of the season.

An MRI performed Tuesday revealed that Rizzo has what Cubs President Theo Epstein termed a mild low-back strain. Rizzo, a National League all-star, faces 10 days of rest and core work and then the Cubs will determine whether Rizzo plays again this season.

"We're going to be cautious with him," Epstein said. "It's the type of thing where if it was before expanded rosters, it would probably be a DL. With expanded rosters in September, no need to DL him, but we're going to be cautious and make sure we knock it out. It's nothing chronic and bother him long term. It's something you don't want to rush back from."

Rizzo has a hitting line of .278/.375/.514 with 30 home runs and 71 RBI. He has not played since coming out of the Aug. 26 game at Cincinnati.

"It's funny," he said. "I hit my 30th home run, and a rain delay comes and my back gets tight. It's very weird. It never got loose after the rain delay, and it kept grabbing on me more and more."

Rizzo said any number of actions trigger the discomfort.

"It's just certain things that I do (where) I feel it," he said. "Twisting is when I feel it most. When I swing, it hurts. It's kind of relieving that the MRI showed something so I'm not going crazy anymore. In 10 days here, feel a lot better and hopefully start up again."

Rizzo did not seem overly concerned about the possibility of not playing again this season.

"I'm not really worried about it or even if I am just because it's an opportunity for the guys here," he said. "If I am shut down, I'm shut down. My main concern is being full strength in the off-season, getting ready for next year. Obviously I want to come back and play.

"It's something we all decided we're not going to go all crazy and rush to get back and have it reoccur over and over. We want this to be the first and last time it ever happens."

More reinforcements here:

The Cubs recalled pitchers Brian Schlitter, Dan Straily, Arodys Vizcaino and Zac Rosscup from Class AAA Iowa. They also brought back outfielder Junior Lake from Iowa.

Two players not on the 40-man roster had their contracts selected from Iowa: catcher Rafael Lopez and left-handed pitcher Eric Jokisch, a product of Northwestern University.

"He was a definite add for us," Theo Epstein said. "Outstanding season, outstanding minor league career. He's always had the plus changeup. I think what's helped him turn the corner is now he's become a true three-pitch pitcher. He's got the slider that he can locate. He can command his fastball to both sides of the plate. He still has the swing-and-miss changeup

"He really had a very consistent, very impressive season at Triple-A after an excellent year last year as well in Double-A. He's someone who we see long term as a starting candidate in the organization."

Lopez is a left-handed hitter who gives the Cubs a third catcher.

Vizcaino is a highly touted prospect who had Tommy John surgery in March 2012 while with the Atlanta organization. He missed the 2012 and 2013 seasons. The Cubs obtained him from the Braves in the July 2012 trade that sent pitcher Paul Maholm to Atlanta.

Cougars set for postseason:

The Kane County Cougars open their Midwest League playoff Wednesday at Wisconsin before coming home to Fifth Third Bank Ballpark in Geneva Thursday and Friday, if necessary. The Cubs' Class A Midwest League affiliate finished with a franchise-best 91-49 season.

Cubs President Theo Epstein said the Cougars are "a tremendous story. They just know how to win."

The Cougars announced several capital improvement projects to their park for 2015, including a new batting cage with two hitting tunnels along with an expanded weight room and video room.

A new high-definition scoreboard and premium seating behind home plate also are planned.

Rotation roulette:

The Cubs' rotation for the weekend series against the Pirates will be Tsuyoshi Wada, Felix Doubront and Travis. Wood. At Toronto beginning next Monday, the Cubs will go with Jacob Turner, Jake Arrieta and Kyle Hendricks in the three games, giving them a six-man rotation for now.

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