CINCINNATI – Whether it explains even some of his recent power slump, Kris Bryant finally relented and took extra time off for a sore left shoulder he said has bothered him much of the past week.
The Cubs’ third baseman missed a second consecutive start Sunday because of lingering soreness, and his status will be evaluated again before Monday’s series opener against the Dodgers in Los Angeles.
The Cubs are facing the Reds Sunday in the finale of a four-game series, trying to avoid a sweep.
“I think it’s just the result of swinging too much and just getting extra work in,” said Bryant, who has dealt with similar episodes in college and the minors but never before in the big leagues.
“All I’ve ever done is play baseball and had the same swing my whole life, releasing the bat with the top hand,” the Cubs’ two-time All-Star said. “I guess when you keep doing that over and over and over again you might get some agitation.
“It’s nothing that I’m seriously concerned about.”
Bryant, the National League MVP in 2016, has just one home run since May 14 and a steadily climbing strikeout rate – from 13.7 percent in April to 32.1 percent this month.
Other than maybe motivating him to take all those extra swings in the batting cage in recent weeks, Bryant doesn’t see a connection to any “struggles” at the plate and the shoulder.
“Sometimes when you’re on the field you try to compensate a little bit for an injury, but I don’t know if I’m necessarily doing that,” he said. “Five days ago is when I really noticed it.”
He described it more as a buildup of soreness than something that happened on a particular swing and said he didn’t want to tell the trainers or staff right away because he wanted to stay in the lineup.
“I kind of just kept swinging through it and being a little stubborn,” he said. “I feel like there’s a negative to going in the training room and telling them you’re hurt, but sometimes it’s what you’ve got to do to get better. If we can just kind of figure this out now I think it’ll pay off in the long run.”
“He’s been battling it, and then I really thought by giving him [Saturday] off he would be fine for today,” manager Joe Maddon said. “But it’s still a little bit ratty. So there’s no sense in pushing that right now. I don’t think it’s going to be prolonged, but I also thought he’d be fine for today.”
If the issue lingers into Tuesday the Cubs could decide at that point to use the 10-day disabled list and take advantage of the full three-day maximum for backdating a move.
“The 10-day DL permits you to do things you wouldn’t do otherwise, but I’m not thinking that yet,” Maddon said. “He’s pretty resilient.”
Said Bryant: “I struggle with any label of it being longer than a day or two.”