After helping Kansas City to their first World Series title in 30 years, Ben Zobrist was signed to a four-year deal with the Cubs last offseason. He played a huge role in winning their first World Series in 108 years. A jack of all trades, Zobrist reached base at a .386 clip, his best OBP since 2009. He spent most of the year hitting fourth and fifth in the lineup, allowing him to collect 76 RBI, his most since 2011. At 35 years old, Zobrist isn't going to be swiping many bags any more, but he has proved an incredibly consistent fantasy performer, hitting between .270 and .284 with between 76 and 94 runs scored for five years in a row. With regular playing time and multi-position eligibility in a Cubs lineup that trailed only the Rockies in runs and OPS in the National League, Zobrist figures to be a solid option deployed in a similar fashion by manager Joe Maddon in his second season on the north side of Chicago.
Zobrist (neck) said he expects to return to the lineup Monday or Tuesday, Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Zobrist described his neck as "unmanageable" last week, but he's been able to get in some pregame workouts the last few days. Despite Zobrist's confidence, the Cubs are worried the issue might linger into the beginning of the regular season, which could open up some starts at second base for Javier Baez until the veteran is fully healthy.
Zobrist (neck) remains out of the Cubs' Cactus League lineup Thursday for the second straight game, Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune reports. While it's poor timing this close to the season for Zobrist to miss time, neither Chicago nor the media has sounded any alarms yet. The veteran remains day-to-day until a more extensive update is given.
Zobrist was scratched from Wednesday's spring league game due to stiffness in his neck, Jesse Rogers of ESPN.com reports. It's unclear how long the issue will keep Zobrist sidelined, so consider him day-to-day until the Cubs release more on his status.
Zobrist could be given more days off during spring training and the upcoming season, The Chicago Sun-Times reports. Zobrist played in 147 games for the Cubs last season, but he'll be turning 36 in May, so manager Joe Maddon said he'll look to find him more rest days in an effort to keep Zobrist fresh for another October run. Helping matters is the emergence of Javier Baez, who gives Chicago another very good option at second base. Expect Baez and Zobrist to platoon there this season, but Baez, who started at second in all 17 postseason games last fall, could end up taking the job full-time. That would push Zobrist into more of a super utility role.
Zobrist, who swung at just 35.5 percent of the pitches he saw in 2016, had the lowest swing percentage in the league, MLB Director of Baseball Research and Development Daren Willman reports. Zobrist was well below the league average of 46.6 percent. Not surprisingly, Zobrist turned this patient eye into an excellent 15.2 percent walk rate and 1.17 BB/K rate, as well as a .386 on-base percentage. These look like leadoff hitter numbers, and with Dexter Fowler no longer around, Zobrist stands a good chance of grabbing that role in 2017.