On Sunday, Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo had to be helped off the field. On Monday, he was diagnosed with a “moderate” ankle sprain that would require him to wear a boot for 5 to 7 days and then be re-evaluated after that point. At that point, it was safe to assume that it was very likely that Rizzo was out for the regular season, with the hope that he could return for the playoffs, should the Cubs qualify.
Just yesterday, Rizzo was moving around the clubhouse in a scooter.
But no one expected this:
Cubs just announced that Anthony Rizzo is leading off for the Cubs and playing first base tonight.— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) September 19, 2019
Obviously Rizzo is not magically healed, but:
Rizzo received a cortisone shot in his right ankle Monday and has been working around the clock with the Cubs medical staff to get to this point.— Tony Andracki (@TonyAndracki23) September 19, 2019
His ankle it taped and he can't hurt it worse, so it will just be about pain tolerance right now.
Rizzo’s return to the lineup gives the offense a shot in the arm. Running the bases and playing defense will be the big issue.
But the emotional impact of this move can’t be overstated. The commentators of Fox Sports were comparing the return of Rizzo to the famous appearances of the New York Knicks’ Willis Reed in game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals or the Dodgers’ Kirk Gibson in the 1988 World Series.
Games are won with runs and not emotion, but the Cubs are certainly a better team with Rizzo in the lineup than out of it. And maybe some of that emotion can transform itself into some wins. It’s happened before.