WASHINGTON — Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, the reigning National League MVP, could be sidelined until at least Tuesday because of the ankle sprain he suffered Wednesday night, manager Joe Maddon said Thursday.
The Cubs haven’t ruled out a stint on the 10-day disabled list.
Bryant, who was out of the lineup for the finale of a four-game series against the Nationals, said he felt “a ton better,” and Maddon said he was encouraged after seeing Bryant move around.
But with a day off scheduled Monday, the Cubs appear likely to shut Bryant down at least through the weekend series in Cincinnati.
“I would think that’s what it’s going to be,” Maddon said. “When you sprain your ankle, it doesn’t just get better overnight. By the weekend, we’ll obviously know a lot more.”
Bryant rolled his right ankle when he slipped over third base after catching a drifting foul pop-up in the fifth inning. He left the game with help from two trainers. The ankle was still visibly swollen Thursday.
“It shouldn’t be too long — I don’t think it should be,” said Bryant, who said he felt “very relieved” it wasn’t worse. “I’ve had so many rolled ankles. Last year I did it to the same ankle. I kind of know what to expect with it. It’s definitely not even close to the worst that I’ve ever had.”
Bryant’s replacement at third base Thursday, rookie Jeimer Candelario, delivered his first big-league home run in the seventh inning.
If Bryant ends up on the DL, the move could be made retroactive by three days. Such a move could coincide with the return from the DL of switch hitter Ben Zobrist, who has been sidelined with a sore left wrist the last two weeks.
Zobrist was scheduled to start a minor-league rehab assignment Thursday with Class AA Tennessee. Barring a setback, he could return to the lineup by Tuesday’s opener of a two-game series at home against the Rays.
One byproduct of Bryant’s absence from the lineup: Anthony Rizzo was dropped from the leadoff spot to No. 3.
“Without KB in the lineup, it looked kind of weird doing all that,” Maddon said. “I just tried to put [Rizzo] more in the middle of the action.”
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