CHICAGO – Anthony Rizzo’s return to the Cubs’ lineup Thursday night was both surprising and inspirational for those around him.
“Rizzo inspired me,” reliever Brandon Kintzler said Friday as he pronounced himself fit after experiencing an oblique strain. “I can’t sit here and worry about an oblique when this guy’s got one leg.”
Rizzo returned to the lineup after suffering a moderately sprained right ankle while fielding a bunt in Sunday’s game. He homered in the third inning of the Cubs’ 5-4, 10-inning loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. After playing six innings, he came out of the game only to start again Friday.
Rizzo led off and went 1 for 2 in Friday’s 2-1 loss. He singled with one out in the third, but the ankle forced him to go station-to-station on a single by Nicholas Castellanos and a single by Kris Bryant to left field that Marcell Ozuna couldn’t get to. A double play off the bat of Kyle Schwarber ended the inning.
“Ozuna, I thought he was going to make a play on it,” Rizzo said. “If he dives and catches it, I’m in no-man’s land. Kind of have to freeze there for a second, but running around was OK.”
Rizzo was doubled off first base on a line drive by Castellanos in the first inning.
Manager Joe Maddon remained surprised by Rizzo’s recovery.
“That was a total surprise yesterday,” Maddon said Friday morning. “I could not have been more surprised. Having had seen the injury, watching for the first couple days coming in on that little shopping cart and just moving around, I’m thinking this is going to be at least a week, a week to 10 days before you could even consider what he did yesterday.”
Rizzo and the Cubs worked around the clock to rehab the ankle.
“Give him credit, man, him and the training staff, to be able to flush out all that swelling so quickly to the point where you could do that,” Maddon said.
“I think what you saw Anthony do is probably inspirational to the other guys that might be able to absorb a little bit more shock or pain regarding their injury in an attempt to play right now. What Anthony did was a little bit above and beyond.”
This and that: Castellanos hit his 57th double Friday, becoming the 13th player since 1871 to reach 57 in a season. Before Friday, it was most recently done in 2000 by Toronto’s Carlos Delgado (57) and Colorado’s Todd Helton (59) ... The Cubs have lost four straight home games for the first time since May 13 to 23, 2018. They are now 19-25 in one-run games ... The Cubs surpassed the 3 million mark in home attendance. It’s the 12th time they’ve done that overall and the fourth straight season.