Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant is unlikely to play again in 2019 once the Cubs are eliminated from playoff contention. (Credit: Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports)
Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant is unlikely to play again in 2019 once the Cubs are eliminated from playoff contention. (Credit: Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports)

Cubs likely to shut Baez, Bryant, Rizzo, Zobrist down for remainder of season


by - Senior Writer -

PITTSBURGH — In terms of the Chicago Cubs' 2019 season, it is all over but the crying, as the Cubs are on the cusp of being eliminated from playoff contention due to a stunning late-season collapse. Of course, injuries have hindered the Cubs' postseason push, but several ailing stars for the Cubs have valiantly fought to overcome through their injury issues.

The good news for the Cubs with regard to being knocked out of playoff contention earlier than expected is that the players nursing injuries will be able to shut it down for the remainder of the final week of the regular season. Cubs manager Joe Maddon spoke with reporters prior to the Cubs' game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday and discussed the team's plans for handling the injured players.

Maddon told the press at PNC Park that first baseman Anthony Rizzo and utility man Ben Zobrist will likely be shut down once the Cubs' playoff hopes are completely dashed. Rizzo has been battling a severe ankle sprain since last week, and Maddon said that he will even consider removing him from Wednesday's contest, should the Pirates garner a comfortable lead or the Milwaukee Brewers clinch the last remaining National League playoff spot in the midst of the action.

As for Zobrist, the 38-year-old might retire following the season, which would make his early deactivation a bit surprising. Zobrist has worked his way back from a lengthy leave of absence in order to help the Cubs reach the postseason, so it would be somewhat understandable for him to be shut down a little prematurely. Unsurprisingly, shortstop Javier Baez and third baseman Kris Bryant, who are dealing with a fractured thumb and a sprained ankle, respectively, are also unlikely to suit up again once the Cubs have nothing left to play for but posterity.

In addition to admitting that the last had likely been seen of Baez and Bryant in the 2019 slate, Maddon also revealed to the media on Wednesday that recent call-up Nico Hoerner would receive some playing time at second base. Hoerner has started at shortstop since being called up in the wake of Baez's injury, and Maddon shared that, likely after receiving a day off, Hoerner will have an opportunity to man second base. Hoerner could potentially serve as the Cubs' starting second baseman in 2020, so it will be worth paying attention to how he finishes out the season.

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