ST. LOUIS — Kris Bryant was out of the Cubs’ starting lineup for the second consecutive day for Thursday’s series finale against the Cardinals.
Bryant was pulled from Tuesday’s game with right hamstring fatigue and what manager David Ross has often referred to this week as heavy legs.
Bryant was unavailable in Wednesday’s 3-2 loss and didn’t pinch-hit in the 10th inning as backup catcher Robinson Chirinos hit instead with a runner on.
While having Bryant in the lineup is always Ross’ first choice, keeping him healthy is the primary goal.
“It’s like holding a deck of cards and knowing I can’t use the ace,” Ross said before Thursday’s game. “But I know why. I’m not ever going to put somebody in harm’s way.
‘‘I think protecting your guys, whether it’s talking to guys or not, using them in a game or putting them in a situation where they get hurt themselves. I’ve learned valuable, valuable lessons in this seat. Having somebody sit out a day or two is much better than 10, 15, 20 [days] in a month, right. It’s just not worth it. It just isn’t.”
Bryant did pinch-hit in the eighth inning Thursday and drew a walk before being replaced by pinch runner Jason Heyward.
He will be in the starting lineup Friday when the Cubs face the Diamondbacks at Wrigley Field, according to Ross.
Homers bite Alzolay early
It didn’t look like Adbert Alzolay was going to be long for Thursday’s game against the Cardinals as he was bitten by the home-run ball early. The Cardinals jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead after Dylan Carlson’s lead-off homer. Third baseman Nolan Arenado added a two-run shot in the third inning to make it a 3-0 game.
But after the Arenado homer, Alzolay was able to get locked in. The Cubs’ right-hander retired 10 of the last 12 batters he faced.
Alzolay finished the game allowing just the three early runs on four hits. He walked three batters and struck out eight.
Megill in, Alcantara out
The Cubs recalled right-handed pitcher Trevor Megill from the Triple-A Iowa before Thursday’s game against the Cardinals. Megill has an 18.00 ERA in five games this season.
Infielder Sergio Alcantara was optioned to Triple-A Iowa in a corresponding move. Alcantara is slashing .171/.266/.354 with two homers and five RBI in 39 games this season.
Infielder Matt Duffy was expected to come off the injured list Thursday, but the team is pushing his activation back by a day. Nothing has changed in Duffy’s status and he will be activated on Friday.