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Kris Bryant survived an injury scare on this play Sunday in Milwaukee.

Head first? Would-be knockout blow is wakeup call for Cubs’ Kris Bryant

SHARE Head first? Would-be knockout blow is wakeup call for Cubs’ Kris Bryant
SHARE Head first? Would-be knockout blow is wakeup call for Cubs’ Kris Bryant

PITTSBURGH – Kris Bryant felt better on Monday, he said. But not good enough to laugh about the head-injury scare that forced him to leave Sunday’s game in Milwaukee.

If anything, the play that could have knocked him turned out to be a wakeup call for the Cubs rookie who plans to avoid head-first slides from this point on.

“I only have one head. I have one life,” said Bryant, who went through league protocols and was deemed concussion free. ”There’s nothing really to joke about with that. So we’re taking it real serious.”

Bryant, who was back in the lineup Monday night against the Pirates, said the first thing he thought about after colliding with Brewers shortstop Jean Segura on the hard slide into second on Sunday was to give up the head-first style.

“I had one of my buddies from Arizona State, he slid head-first, and he’s paralyzed now,” Bryant said. “It’s a scary situation.”

Cory Hahn, then a freshman at Arizona State after having been drafted by the San Diego Padres, was paralyzed from the chest down after a collision on a head-first slide into second base during a college game in 2011. Bryant met him through amateur tournaments they competed in.

Bryant, an aggressive base runner with 10 steals and as many infield hits, isn’t sure the feet-first transition will be easy, but he sounded serious Monday.

“I’ve always slid head-first, but I’ve made some pretty good strides sliding feet-first when I got into pro ball,” said the 2013 No. 2 overall draft pick. “It’s just instincts, and sometimes it’s hard to think on the run like that.

“But there are more important things than being safe [on a play], and I think my safety’s more important than that. So it definitely makes you rethink some things.”

Manager Joe Maddon said he doesn’t have a problem with a player doing what comes natural, even if it’s sliding head-first.

“It’s a crazy game; things happen,” Maddon said. “You always prefer feet-first sliding. A lot of guys are not really good at it or don’t like it. But I tell you one thing: Infielders don’t like it because it’s much more intimidating to apply a tag.”

NOTES: Left-hander Clayton Richard was designated for assignment by the Cubs for the second time in as many weeks. After Sunday’s impressive start against Milwaukee he was 2-0 with a 3.00 ERA in three starts for the Cubs — who hope to find a way to keep him in the system if he clears waivers. … Outfielder Matt Szczur was recalled from AAA Iowa to take Richard’s place on the roster and bolster a short bench. … Assuming catcher Miguel Montero (sprained thumb) progresses as expected during his minor-league rehab assignment this week, Maddon suggested he could be activated from the DL by the end of this weekend’s Giants series at home.

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