Rizzo may sit out opener of Cubs-Diamondbacks series (Aug 01, 2017)
CHICAGO — Anthony Rizzo’s aching back may keep him out another day when the Chicago Cubs return home to open a series with the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday.
Rizzo experienced back pain on Saturday and sat out Sunday’s series finale in Milwaukee as the Cubs beat the Brewers 4-2 to take three of four from the former National League Central leaders.
“There’s no reason to push him right now,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “We’ve had it before with him, so day off tomorrow, hopefully by Tuesday. And if not, more than likely by Wednesday, but we want to call it ‘day to day’ right now.”
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The three-game Wrigley Field series, the first of six meetings between the teams in the next 13 days, could serve as a National League postseason preview.
Chicago (56-48) is 13-2 since the All-Star break and has roared past the slumping Brewers to take the NL Central lead.
Arizona (60-45) split last weekend’s four-game series in St. Louis. It owns the NL’s third-best record but is 14 games in back of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West.
The Diamondbacks’ postseason hopes rest on a wild-card spot. Arizona and the Colorado Rockies currently lead in a chase for the top two spots.
Arizona is 10-17 in its last 27 games after a 16-3 stretch during June.
“The difference between where we were and where we are now is very minute,” catcher Chris Iannetta told reporters. “We know we’re going to turn the page at any point in time.”
The Cubs send left-hander Jon Lester (8-6, 3.88 ERA) against Diamondbacks lefty Patrick Corbin (8-9, 4.36).
Lester has a 2.05 ERA and has won all three starts since the All-Star break as he makes his 23rd start of the season and 13th at home.
He’ll make his fifth career start against Arizona and is 2-0 with a 4.63 ERA. Lefties are batting .187 against Lester and right-handed batters have hit .258.
Corbin is riding a two-start winning streak. Last time out against the Atlanta Braves, he allowed two runs in six innings. In his last seven starts, he has a 2.81 ERA and has lowered his season ERA from 5.19 to 4.36.
Arizona made a flurry of transactions before Monday’s trading deadline, including re-acquiring right-handed reliever David Hernandez (1-0, one save, 2.23 ERA) from the Los Angeles Angels in exchange for right-hander Luis Madero.
Hernandez pitched for the Diamondbacks between 2011-15 and had a 3.54 ERA.
Separately, Arizona also acquired infielder Adam Rosales in a trade with the Oakland Athletics, placed utility man Chris Owings on the 60-day disabled (fractured middle finger), signed Emilio Bonifacio to an minor league deal and put shortstop Ketel Marte on the bereavement list after the death of his mother in a car accident on Sunday.
The Cubs will feature two new faces they hope will shore up areas of need.
Chicago acquired left-handed closer Justin Wilson and catcher Alex Avila in a Sunday trade with the Detroit Tigers, sending third base prospect Jeimer Candelario and shortstop Isaac Paredes plus a player to be named or cash.
Wilson (3-4, 2.68 ERA, 13 saves) offers a lefty bullpen presence with right-handed closer Wade Davis (22 saves).
With Avila, the Cubs get a capable backup to catcher Willson Contreras who has had a heavy workload particularly since the Cubs released Miguel Montero after his criticism of starter Jake Arrieta in late June.