The Cubs might be about to find out whether they can reach their lofty goals this season without third baseman Kris Bryant being a significant factor.
‘‘Of course you can; it’s just much more difficult to do,’’ said manager Joe Maddon, who didn’t rule out a return to the disabled list for Bryant, whose ailing left shoulder has flared up again.
Bryant has been sidelined since aggravating the shoulder on a swing Monday. Maddon said he expects Bryant to return no sooner than Friday, when the Cubs open a series in St. Louis.
But that timeline seems optimistic. Bryant, who spent more than two weeks on the DL recently because of the injury, still was feeling pain and hasn’t been allowed to take swings since the injury recurred.
The Cubs might wait to make a call on a potential DL move until Friday, when they could get the most out of the maximum-allowed three days to backdate a move.
‘‘It’s not impossible,’’ Maddon said. ‘‘Everything’s in play.’’
That includes a possible second MRI exam. An exam last month revealed no structural damage, and the Cubs have managed it as an inflammation issue since.
‘‘We’re satisfied with the definition,’’ Maddon said. ‘‘It’s just about controlling it, that’s all. I just have to listen to him and the docs right now, and we’ll try to make our determination. I just know that he’s not comfortable with it.’’
Bryant, who has been unavailable in the clubhouse the last two days as he has received treatment, said late last month he originally hurt the shoulder on a headfirst slide and played through it for about a month before it worsened. He got a cortisone shot last month but hasn’t had one since the latest flare-up.
On Tuesday, Maddon didn’t rule out the possibility of Bryant having offseason surgery.
Since returning from the DL on July 11, Bryant is 10-for-40 with two homers, five walks and nine strikeouts. He’s hitless in his last five plate appearances.
His power numbers have been down significantly since he first hurt the shoulder, one of the realities the Cubs might have to accept for the rest of the season.
‘‘Of course, we want him back as quickly as possible,’’ Maddon said. ‘‘But I don’t know that this is something that you can necessarily rush right now.’’
No timeline for Morrow
After pitching coach Jim Hickey described ‘‘a lot of pain’’ in closer Brandon Morrow’s arm during a weekly radio hit, Morrow quieted the inevitable alarm bells over his biceps injury.
He hasn’t thrown since the last game before the All-Star break and won’t be ready to return from the DL when eligible Saturday, he said. But he said the pain is ‘‘a fraction of what it was’’ and he’s ‘‘going in the right direction.’’
The Cubs have no timeline for Morrow’s return from what has been diagnosed as inflammation.
‘‘We want to be patient with that to make sure, when he does come back, he doesn’t have any more setbacks,’’ Maddon said.