Chicago Cubs' Rizzo diagnosed with moderate sprain, return uncertain

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo has a moderate sprain of his right ankle, and it's questionable whether he'll return by the end of the regular season.

    Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo has a moderate sprain of his right ankle, and it's questionable whether he'll return by the end of the regular season. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 9/16/2019 8:10 PM

Anthony Rizzo's main mode of transportation Monday was a scooter, on which he tooled around the Chicago Cubs clubhouse.

Rizzo can't put much weight on his right foot, but the Cubs were breathing easier that the ankle injury he suffered in Sunday's game against the Pirates isn't more serious.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

An MRI on Monday revealed that the Cubs' first baseman has a moderate lateral right-ankle sprain. He will be in a walking boot for 5-7 days, and after that he and the Cubs will have a better idea of when he might return to the field.

Rizzo and the Cubs remain hopeful, yet realistic, of a return before the regular season ends, but that may be optimistic.

"I think in a few days really will tell us a lot more, just how everything reacts, but as of now, it doesn't feel great," said Rizzo, who described the feeling in the ankle as one of throbbing. "I want to play as soon as possible. Whether it's now or whether it's Game 1 of the World Series, I want to play as soon as possible.

"Obviously, these weeks, September and October, is why you play baseball. It's the funnest time of the year, the most pressure packed, action packed. To miss any time right now, it (stinks), it really does. But it could be worse, and I'm grateful it's not any worse."

Rizzo turned his ankle while fielding a bunt. He had to be helped off the field by teammate Jason Heyward and the athletic-training staff. An X-ray taken at the ballpark revealed no break, and Monday's MRI gave Rizzo and the Cubs relief that surgery will not be needed.

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So what's next for the Cubs, who remain in the thick of the playoff chase? Rizzo provides offense, Gold Glove-caliber defense and clubhouse leadership. He also has been an effective leadoff hitter of late. The Cubs also are without shortstop Javier Baez and closer Craig Kimbrel because of injury.

"It's next man up when that happens," said infielder Ben Zobrist, who led off Monday night against the Cincinnati Reds. "You don't replace an Anthony Rizzo or a Javy Baez. The next guy jumps in there and does what he's capable of doing, and that's what we had happen (Sunday).

"You're not going to make that up with one player. You've got to make it up with a couple players. Everybody kind of steps up into that situation that he would be put in and tries to do what we're capable of doing."

Manager Joe Maddon put backup catcher Victor Caratini at first base Monday. Caratini is likely to catch Yu Darvish on Tuesday night, so Maddon said he would go with Plan B, which could be either Ian Happ or Jonathan Lucroy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Maddon praised Rizzo's overall game.

"He does everything so well," he said. "He's just a good baseball player. That's what he is. He's known for his hitting, and people recognize his defense. But he's a really good baseball player. He fields his position so well. He throws really well as a first baseman. He's a fearless thrower.

"We can do things on defense with him that we can't do with somebody else out there. The different little nuanced things that we do are more difficult if he's not playing first.

"When you ask him to lead off, he turns into this superb leadoff hitter, which we've really been riding pretty well. Sometimes I think he goes undervalued in a sense. He is a bedrock, and he's going to be missed."

The Cubs rallied from a 5-3 deficit Sunday to beat the Pirates 16-6 after the air had gone out of Wrigley Field following Rizzo's injury.

Can this be another rallying point?

"We don't need any extra rallying points," Heyward said. "We've got enough of them."

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