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Cubs’ Kris Bryant: Increase penalties when baseball used as ‘weapon’

SAN DIEGO — Reigning National League most valuable player Kris Bryant can’t recall charging a mound or being hit intentionally by a pitch for any personal reason.

But Bryant won’t fault Nationals outfielder and childhood pal Bryce Harper for going after Giants reliever Hunter Strickland after Strickland drilled him with a 98 mph fastball Monday over home runs Harper hit against him nearly three years ago.

‘‘A baseball’s a weapon,’’ Bryant said before the Cubs’ 6-2 loss Tuesday to the Padres. ‘‘Anytime you’re throwing at someone on purpose, I think there should be some harsher penalties.’’

Strickland didn’t throw anywhere near Harper’s head. But two days after Angels superstar Mike Trout suffered a long-term thumb injury sliding into a base, the potential costs to a player, a team and the game for an intentionally inflicted injury weren’t lost on Bryant.

Kris Bryant

Harper is expected to be the top hitter on the free-agent market after next season. Bryant might be that player three years later.

‘‘Yeah, he’s probably going to be worth a lot of money, and anything could happen,’’ Bryant said. ‘‘It’s frustrating as a hitter. Are we just going to wear it and get hit?

‘‘Like I said, a baseball’s a weapon,’’ Bryant added, pointing to Class A game Sunday in which a pitcher threw a baseball into a group of players during a brawl on the field. ‘‘The guy chucked the ball at a guy. I’m like, ‘Man, that could have killed him if it hit him in the head from 15 feet away.’ ’’

NOTES: The Cubs dropped to 0-5 on their West Coast trip with one game left, assuring their worst trip of two or more cities
since September 2014 (1-5 in Toronto and Pittsburgh). That was their last losing season.

• Ben Zobrist was back in the lineup after leaving the game Monday because of discomfort in his left wrist while batting right-handed. He reported feeling better, though he didn’t have to test the wrist against a lefty.

• Kyle Schwarber snapped an 0-for-12 skid with his eighth home run of the season, a solo shot in the fifth inning that briefly tied the score before the Padres knocked starter Eddie Butler out of the game with four runs in the bottom of the inning.

• Third baseman Bryant and first baseman Anthony Rizzo lead NL vote-getters at their positions in All-Star balloting. The Cubs also rank second at catcher (Willson Contreras), second base (Javy Baez) and shortstop (Addison Russell). And Jason Heyward, Zobrist and Schwarber are 3-4-5 in outfield voting.

Follow me on Twitter @GDubCub.

Email: gwittenmyer@suntimes.com

 

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