Anthony Rizzo's extended absence would have cleared more at-bats for slugging prospect Kris Bryant.
But the Cubs -- despite their recent improvement with a batch of recently promoted prospects -- remain in a long-term mode.
Rizzo faces the possibility of missing the rest of the season after an MRI revealed a lower back strain that will sideline him for at least 10 more days. Bryant, 22, who led the minor leagues with 43 home runs in addition to 110 RBIs and a .325 batting average -- was told recently by President Theo Epstein to take a break before preparing for what they hope is a seven-month season in 2015.
The Cubs also could be looking at a return to shortstop for Javier Baez for at least the next few games. Starlin Castro left Tuesday night's game after suffering a left ankle sprain while sliding into home plate for the second of four runs in the first inning against the Brewers.
Initial tests ruled out a fracture, but Castro was scheduled to undergo an MRI to determine the extent of damage after his ankle bent awkwardly.
Losing Castro, who is batting .292 with 14 home runs and 65 RBIs, for an extended period would provide more playing time for infielder Logan Watkins but not Bryant, who wasn't among the seven players promoted from Triple-A Iowa before Tuesday's game.
The Cubs have said all along they wouldn't promote Bryant to the majors this season. Epstein revealed the offseason plan he delivered to Bryant during a telephone call.
"The fact is we're not in a pennant race, and he's a first-year professional who didn't miss any time," Epstein said. "It's a long season, a long grind whether he realizes it or not. It's appropriate to go home and rest and go through some active rest physically and let some things soak in mentally and come back ready to go for what we hope will we'll be a seventh-month season for him next year.
"I think he's close enough to where he can start setting his sights on the big leagues. Whenever that time comes, we don't know, but it's getting closer. There's a good chance that as he continues to develop, he'll spend the vast majority of 2015 in the big leagues."
Epstein stressed the Cubs' mission is to find a way to be competitive in 2015, but not at the expense of their long-term future. He said it is rare for a player finishing his first full professional season to be promoted to the majors unless he could address a "dire" need for a playoff contender.
"Kris is as advanced and as mature and as professional of a prospect as we've had," Epstein said. "He's as low-maintenance of a prospect we've had. I think he handles new situations well."
Epstein intimated that Bryant might not start 2015 with the Cubs.
"If anyone can jump into a big-league picture in the middle of a season and not miss a beat, it's Kris Bryant."
Rizzo, meanwhile, missed his eighth consecutive start and will be relegated to core exercises once the stiffness subsides.
"If I am shut down, I'm shut down," Rizzo said. "My main concern is being at full strength in the offseason, getting ready for next year. I want to come back and play. It's not fun sitting around. It's something where we all decided we're not going to go crazy and rush to get back and have it reoccur over and over. We want this to be the first and last time it happens.''
After enduring a third consecutive losing season, Rizzo seemed excited about next season with young players like Jorge Soler in the mix.
"We're pretty good," Rizzo said. "It's exciting because everyone feels it. The last couple years were rough, hearing about these guys coming up. And now finally get here and it's going to be fun to watch them because I got to see them get off to a great start. There's going to be a point where (Soler) struggles, and it's going to be fun to watch them go through their bumps and bruises. So did I. We'll all do it together.''
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