As much as the Cubs downplayed the outfield collision Monday between two of their young core players, Kris Bryant wasn’t downplaying anything as he briefly felt his knee give and watched his season flash before his eyes.
“Right when I hit the ground, I was like, `Oh, man;’ it was serious,” said Bryant, who’s tied for the major-league lead with 24 home runs. “Anytime your knee goes the way it’s not supposed to go, it’s scary.
“I think I got lucky.”
He was back in the lineup Tuesday, feeling only “a little uncomfortable” from the bruise on his left leg.
Bryant, from left field, made the catch on the play, calling for the ball, as Almora arrived from center, also calling for it, before crashing into Bryant.
The Cubs already had lost another of their young sluggers, Kyle Schwarber, to a season-ending knee injury when he collided with center fielder Dexter Fowler while playing left field the third game of the season in Arizona.
“The first thing that crossed my mind is what happened to Kyle,” Bryant said. “I was just kind of scared about the knee. That’s what I felt at first. And then looking at the replay, thinking my foot wasn’t on the ground like what Kyle had – it could have been a lot worse.”
Bryant, who homered earlier in the game, stayed in the game for the final out of that fifth inning but left for a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the fifth. He said he would have stayed in the game if the game had been close (the Cubs led 8-0).
Bryant, an All-Star third baseman, said Monday’s scare has not made him rethink his willingness to play the outfield for manager Joe Maddon – who has used him in all three outfield spots since his debut last year.
“Not at all,” said Bryant, who also was involved in a slow-speed bump with shortstop Addison Russell on a popup in shallow left on Monday.
“I’m not a veteran guy out there by any means,” Bryant said, “but I’m getting better out there. I think I learn something new every day.”
“We need to be a little louder out there,” Bryant said. “Next time, it shouldn’t happen. Maybe I’ll get out of the way.”
Don’t count on Maddon backing off of his penchant for using players all over the field defensively, either. He repeatedly has said fear of injuries should rarely play a role in how a team uses its players.
“It was truly KB’s ball, and we have to iron that out,” Maddon said. “Even the popup with Addison and KB. We need some voice amplification with our outfielders.
“I didn’t like it. I didn’t like it at all. We have to avoid that. It was aggressive, and we made the play. I’ll take it. Down the road you just don’t want that to happen.”