SAN DIEGO -- Though their massive lead isn’t what it once was, the Cubs remain a confident bunch.
They’re also ready to get back on track.
Still, it’d be hard not to have a little faith in the team’s fortunes seeing as — at seven games — the Cubs still have the biggest lead in the majors. Sure, they’ve played their share of poor baseball lately, losing 15 of 21.
But first baseman Anthony Rizzo said before Tuesday’s All-Star Game he thinks the Cubs are still well positioned in spite of their recent woes. He also thinks that big cushion, one that once sat at 12 1/2 games in the National League Central, may have played a role in the Cubs falling off after a 47-20 start.
“There’s a sense of urgency,” Rizzo said. “Not that there’s not every single day. But you build a big lead, and I don’t want to say we were coasting, but I guess we were. It’s good. You can’t be good all the time in this game. It’s impossible. We’ll be ready for the second half.”
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The Cubs should get a boost from the eventual return of outfielder Dexter Fowler, who has been out with a hamstring injury since June 19. Fowler opted not to participate in Tuesday’s All-Star Game in order to avoid re-injuring himself. But the outfielder — who is hitting .290/.398/.483 with seven home runs and 28 RBIs in 284 plate appearances — expects to participate in the club’s Thursday workout. He could be activated from the disabled list shortly thereafter.
“(Fowler would) just lengthen our lineup out again and have another professional at-bat,” Rizzo said. “Every single time he steps to the plate he’s going to work the count and give us a good at-bat.”
Rizzo isn’t alone in his confidence. During Monday’s pre-game media session, pitcher Jon Lester suggested the Cubs just need to slow down the roller coaster.
Rizzo agrees. He sees a simple solution as the remedy to a slide that has included series losses to the St. Louis Cardinals, Miami Marlins, New York Mets, Cincinnati Reds and the Pittsburgh Pirates.
“We’ve just got to go out and play,” Rizzo said.