There’s still no definite timetable for his return to the lineup, but Kris Bryant has taken a big step toward that goal.
Bryant has begun dry-swinging and is working toward hitting off a tee for the first time since being put on the disabled list July 24 with inflammation in his left shoulder.
“Nothing super-crazy, but it’s nice to be able to pick up a bat,” Bryant said after taking grounders at third before the Cubs’ 9-4 loss Saturday to the Nationals at Wrigley Field.
Bryant said he no longer has pain in the shoulder, so “what we’re doing is working and the right thing. There are things that I needed to do to just maintain my body, and hopefully it’s making me stronger for it. As much as it stinks to be on the DL, I see it as a win for me.”
The injury, which has landed Bryant on the DL twice this season, has taught him a valuable lesson when it comes to swinging a bat: too much of it can be detrimental. He said he was taking “game-like” swings in batting practice, and the strain became too much for his shoulder.
“In the cage, you kind of slow things down and work on just taking it nice and easy, and that’s really what’s made me who I am today,” Bryant said. “I really practiced at half-speed, and I think I got a little away from that.
“It was good for me to realize that you can’t keep going every day and swinging and swinging and swinging because things might bark at you sometimes, and that’s kind of what happened. I want to play until I’m 40, so I’m glad it happened this early.”
As far as returning this season, Bryant, who’s 26, said, “I’m totally confident that I’ll be back.”
Catcher Willson Contreras hasn’t been shy in using his arm to keep baserunners honest. Against the Nats on Friday, Contreras picked off Juan Soto at first base to help stifle a rally, and the Cubs went on to win 3-2. It was a dangerous throw in a key situation, but manager Joe Maddon is all for taking chances if done right.
“If it’s the right play, make it or attempt to make it, and if it happens to go awry, I don’t care because it was the right thing to do in that moment,” Maddon said. “Do it without concern of making a mistake.”
Contreras said that philosophy gives him confidence to fire at will.
“That’s one thing that helps me a lot,” Contreras said. “Even if I make an error . . . and the runner is able to score, I don’t want to feel bad because that’s who I am. I’m not afraid to make mistakes or make an error, and that’s one thing that makes me free.”
Right-hander Yu Darvish is scheduled to throw live batting practice before the game Tuesday against the Brewers. He has been on the DL since May 23 with tendinitis in his right triceps.