By Chris Emma–
CHICAGO (CBS) — Zo knows best, as manager Joe Maddon explained. So the Cubs are letting infielder/outfielder Ben Zobrist decide the course of action for his return from a left wrist injury.
An MRI on Monday confirmed that there’s no structural damage for Zobrist’s wrist. He’s considered day-to-day and is eligible to return from the 10-day disabled list Friday. A brief rehab stint is possible for Zobrist, who hasn’t yet begun to swing a bat with full force.
“We’re not going to push it at this point,” Zobrist said at his locker on Monday before the Cubs opened a three-game series against the Padres at Wrigley Field. “Friday is the target. If we end up pushing it back a couple days to make for sure it’s good, then it will probably be either over the weekend or Monday.”
Zobrist had been playing with his sore wrist much of the last month, with mixed results. His batting average fell to .223, and the Cubs decided their best option was to move him to the disabled list.
The 36-year-old Zobrist has played with Maddon for 11 seasons (nine in Tampa Bay, two in Chicago). Maddon has leaned on Zobrist in deciding when he’s ready to return.
“The mind of Zo,” Maddon said. “You just listen to it. He’s very direct. He has no other method. It’s unfiltered. It’s the most unfiltered mind in history. So listen to him, and he’ll tell you exactly what he needs, and that’s what you do.”
With Zobrist out, the Cubs have reworked their lineup and placed first baseman Anthony Rizzo in as the team’s leadoff hitter. Kris Bryant is starting Monday as well after sitting out Sunday’s game.
Outfielder Jason Heyward isn’t in the starting lineup after a deep cut in his left hand that forced him out of Sunday’s game in Pittsburgh. Heyward could be available to pinch run for the Cubs on Monday, Maddon said.
The Cubs are back home at Wrigley Field for just three days amid a stretch of 17 road games in 21 days. Jon Lester will oppose the Padres’ Clayton Richard.