ST. LOUIS — Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant said everything’s back to “completely normal” on the field and in the batter’s box since he had his helmet spun and his sunglasses busted by a 96 mph fastball in Colorado nearly two weeks ago.
“All systems go,” he said before his sixth game back from the beaning Friday at Busch Stadium.
Of course, the biggest difference for Bryant is the C-Flap he now wears on his helmet to protect his jaw and left cheek. He’s the sixth MVP to adopt the extra protection, joining Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, Giancarlo Stanton, Miguel Cabrera and Jose Altuve.
“I think it’s going to be something that a lot of guys [start wearing],” Bryant said. “Maybe even you have to wear it pretty soon, just for added protection.”
The Brewers already mandate it for their lowest-level minor-leaguers because of all the added velocity and hard-breaking stuff in the game. They have three players wearing it at the big-league level.
The Cubs had four players in the lineup wearing the flap Friday night in their series opener against the Cardinals: Bryant, plus Albert Almora Jr., Javy Baez and Jason Heyward.
Bryant isn’t in favor of requiring the flap.
“More of a comfort thing,” he said. “But I’ll certainly wear it.”
He didn’t have much of an adjustment period because he had worn the flap as a kid, all the way through high school.
“I always went out and bought it myself and put it on,” said Bryant, who didn’t know it was an option in college and then got used to the flapless helmet by the time he got to the majors. “It really takes an event like this to open your eyes and see that, ‘Hey, maybe I should have worn that in the first place.’ ”
Not turning to Gimenez yet
Two days after big-ticket starter Yu Darvish’s latest short outing, Cubs manager Joe Maddon was quick to dismiss a question about whether it might be time to try Darvish’s one-time personal catcher, Chris Gimenez, who’s at Class AAA Iowa.
“Not yet,” Maddon said, jumping quickly to catcher Willson Contreras’ defense. “It has nothing to do with the catcher — would you all write that down? It has nothing to do with the catcher.”
The question had nothing to do with Contreras’ abilities but everything to do with Darvish’s mindset, comfort zone and any possible chemistry he might have with Gimenez after a poor six-outing start to his Cubs career.
“If it gets to that point, I promise you I will concede to that, but I haven’t even thought about that,” Maddon said, adding that the staff is working on other fixes with Darvish that they think should start paying off. “I really think we’re on to some things right now. The last of my concerns is his catching.”
Look for veteran utilityman Ben Zobrist to continue to see increased time in the leadoff spot, especially against right-handers, because of his “more suited” approach for that role, Maddon said.
— Shortstop Addison Russell got a day off Friday against right-hander Miles Mikolas.