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Kris Bryant, Javy Baez out of Cubs’ starting lineup against Reds

On the 27th day of the Cubs’ stretch of 30 scheduled games in 30 days, manager Joe Maddon held Kris Bryant and Javy Baez out of the starting lineup Sunday. Though both ended up getting into the game, Maddon stressed how much he wanted to give both some rest.

‘‘I really believe today is very important to give [Bryant] today off — and Javy,’’ Maddon said before the game.

Baez has played in 146 of the Cubs’ 149 games and has become one of the few truly every-day players on the roster. Maddon revealed Baez is ‘‘banged up a little bit’’ and was fine with not starting Sunday.

Bryant, meanwhile, is working his way back into form after returning from a stint on the disabled list caused by a shoulder injury Sept. 1. He has no home runs and a .391 slugging percentage since coming back.

Kris Bryant of the Chicago Cubs watches from the bench as his teammates take on the San Diego Padres at Wrigley Field on August 5, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Even though Bryant is connecting slightly underneath the ball, Maddon said he likes that Bryant is keeping two hands on the bat more consistently. Overall, Maddon said Bryant’s bat speed and legs look good.

‘‘He’s fouling his pitch off,’’ Maddon said. ‘‘The pitch that he could really drive, he’s just under it a little bit. It’s going straight back. Otherwise, he’s had some decent at-bats.’’

Bryant last homer came July 21.

‘‘The ball has just not been in the seats; that’s the only big difference that I’m seeing so far,’’ Maddon said. ‘‘This is just observation-wise from the side. Just like a click under the ball. I want to believe that it’s going to start getting squared up. It would be nice to get the ball in the seats from him and a couple of other guys moving it forward.’’

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Bryant, who had a pinch-hit single, said he still might be a little rusty after his long layoff.

‘‘I know it’s going to take some time to start to get used to breaking pitches,’’ he said. ‘‘Some guys are really finding their groove right now. It’s just another chapter in my story and what I have to get through and what I have to learn and stuff like that.

‘‘I’m still getting there, but I feel a lot better than I did 15 games ago or so.’’

Mixed bag

The Cubs activated right fielder Jason Heyward (right hamstring) from the disabled list, and he was available for pinch-hitting duty. He won’t start Monday against the Diamondbacks but is physically ready to go otherwise.

Maddon said closer Brandon Morrow (inflammation in right biceps) felt pretty good, and there were no negatives after his 19-pitch session Saturday.

The news wasn’t as encouraging about left fielder Kyle Schwarber (back). Maddon said Schwarber won’t travel to Arizona, avoiding the plane rides there and back and the two lefties (Patrick Corbin, Robbie Ray) the Diamondbacks plan to start in the series.


Infielder Tommy La Stella was supposed to start Sunday but was scratched with tightness in his lower back. A little lineup juggling enabled center fielder Albert Almora Jr. to start on his bobblehead day after an initial oversight by Maddon.

‘‘That was my mistake,’’ Maddon said. ‘‘I did not know today was Albert Almora bobblehead day until I walked in. So in some weird way, he’s gotten into the lineup. So heads up. Bobbleheads up.’’