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Opening Day still a target as Anthony Rizzo ramps up from back injury

4 years agoTony Andracki

When the Cubs open the 2020 regular season Friday night against the Brewers at Wrigley Field, will Anthony Rizzo’s name be in the lineup?

That’s the burning question surrounding this Cubs team right now, five days ahead of Opening Day.

It’s a big question in his mind, too, as he recovers from the back issue that has plagued him throughout summer camp.

“Opening Day does mean a lot to me. To be the Opening Day starter for the Chicago Cubs — that’s the goal,” Rizzo said Sunday evening. “I feel like with how I felt today, how I was moving today, it’s definitely the right direction.”

Rizzo ramped up his activity Sunday, taking batting practice and ground balls at first base before the Cubs’ exhibition game against the White Sox.

He was not in the lineup for Sunday night’s game and won’t be Monday night, either, as he and the Cubs anticipate an “active recovery” day following a couple days of working out.

But Rizzo hopes to be in the lineup for the final exhibition game Wednesday night at Wrigley Field against the Minnesota Twins.

“I definitely would love to play Wednesday, to get live at-bats against a different team,” he said. “But just gotta keep day-to-day. I’m very optimistic that I will be in there Wednesday and Thursday, we’re off and then Friday, hopefully ring the bell. That’s definitely a short-term goal.”

As he’s gotten some work in over the weekend, Rizzo said he is trying to make every rep count and increasing the intensity to try to stay as locked in as possible.

Rizzo has dealt with back issues almost every season the last few years and in this particular instance, he and the Cubs have taken a cautious approach ahead of the regular season. He admitted he might have pushed the back a bit too much when he was first dialing up the activity about a week ago.

“Right now, we’re able to afford a couple extra days off of rest and all that,” he said. “It’s not like I’m walking around in dire pain but now as the season is approaching, it’s go time.”

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