Who’s on third for Cubs down stretch? ‘I don’t know’
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PHILADELPHIA — Now that Kris Bryant is back in the lineup, how long will he be at third base?
With Daniel Murphy installed as the every-day second baseman and Addison Russell expected to return to shortstop after a few days coming off the bench, Javy Baez — the Cubs’ MVP this season — needs a place to play.
That likely means a hefty dose of outfield play for Bryant in September and the postseason.
That’s something manager Joe Maddon has hinted at in the weeks leading up to Bryant’s return Saturday from a left-shoulder injury. Right fielder Jason Heyward’s hamstring injury only increases the likelihood.
“I don’t know, with Jason going down, that kind of shakes things up a little bit; I’m sure there’ll be some moving around,” Bryant said after returning from a four-game minor-league rehab assignment.
“I’m fine with that. I look at 2016 as my best year, and I played a lot of outfield there. I’m ready for it. I’ve just got to make sure I get work at both of those positions.”
For now, Russell will be eased back into action as a late-inning defensive replacement as he returns from a disabled-list stint.
That would involve Murphy going to the bench, Baez sliding to second and Russell finishing games at short.
“We have a lot of really good moving parts,” Maddon said.
Bryant, who doubled in his second at-bat and singled in his last at-bat in going 2-for-4, said his shoulder feels healthy and strong after being sidelined since July 23 — for a second time with the same injury.
Maddon has talked about giving Bryant regular days off down the stretch to keep him strong, but Bryant said he feels especially rested because of all the downtime and won’t necessarily need it.
His expectations for his performance the rest of the way?
“Just to be Bryant,” he said. “That’s pretty good to me.”
Heyward return uncertain
Heyward wouldn’t speculate on a timeline for his return from the injury he suffered trying to make a diving catch in Atlanta on Thursday.
But considering the “pop” he felt and the importance of his health in October, he could be out most of September.
“It felt like somebody took [a medical reflex hammer] and hit me pretty good,” Heyward said of the pain he felt just before he landed. “It was kind of off to the side that I felt it. Once I felt it, I knew it popped.
“It could have been worse. But it still is a hamstring, and we’ve just got to make sure we take the time to get it right.
”You’ll see me again.”
In addition to Bryant and Russell, the Cubs added three more players from Class AAA Iowa as rosters expanded: right-hander James Norwood, catcher Taylor Davis and pinch-running specialist Terrance Gore.
To make room on the 40-man roster for Davis and Gore, the Cubs designated right-hander Luke Farrell and left-hander Rob Zastryzny for assignment.
Catcher Bobby Wilson, acquired Thursday in a trade with the Twins, also joined the team, but he won’t be eligible to be activated from the 10-day disabled list — he’s out with an ankle sprain — until Tuesday.
The Cubs likely will make only three additions beyond that once the minor-league seasons end next week, activating right-hander Tyler Chatwood and left-hander Brian Duensing from the disabled list and recalling right-hander Alec Mills.