PHILADELPHIA – Cubs leadoff guy Emilio Bonifacio won’t be sparking this lineup anytime soon.
The Cubs stashed Bonifacio on the disabled list on Friday with right rib cage inflammation, but didn’t have any timetable for his return, saying they’re still waiting on the MRI results.
Bonifacio collapsed in the batter’s box during the first inning of Thursday night’s 4-0 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates. It didn’t look good as he swung, grounded out and rolled around the dirt at PNC Park.
The Cubs caught lightning in a bottle when they signed Bonifacio to a minor-league deal in mid-February. Released by the Kansas City Royals, Bonifacio went 4-for-5 on Opening Day, the first of his 18 multi-hit games this season, a hot streak that had him hitting .343 by May 2.
Bonifacio’s average has dropped 77 points since then, but he added another dimension with his speed (13 stolen bases) and versatility as a switch-hitter who can play all over the infield and outfield.
“He’s been everything that everybody thought he was,” manager Rick Renteria said, “a high-energy leadoff guy that works as hard as he can to try to get on base. He’s not your prototypical guy in that he does swing the bat a lot. But he’s come through for us in that slot, driving in runs, getting on, stealing a base. (He) can run and he can do a lot of different things.
“Hopefully, all this (will) be a short-term situation.”
The Cubs activated Ryan Sweeney before Friday’s game against the Philadelphia Phillies and put him in center field at Citizens Bank Park. Sweeney will share time in center with Justin Ruggiano and Junior Lake.
Renteria mentioned Lake and Chris Coghlan as options for the leadoff spot, but didn’t want to move Luis Valbuena (.396 on-base percentage) in front of Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro and disrupt the middle of the order.
“We’re just going to try and mix-and-match and see where we go with that,” Renteria said. “The 3-4-5 slot there for us is working pretty well.”