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Why twice-injured MVP Kris Bryant won’t stop sliding headfirst

The Cubs should have a much better idea by early Friday on how long Kris Bryant will be sidelined by the hand injury he suffered sliding headfirst into third base on Wednesday.

But whether he’ll give up the sliding technique that has hurt him twice in three seasons is another matter.

“Baseball instincts just take over, and you want to be safe,” Bryant said, “and you’re going to do anything you can.”

During his rookie season in 2015, Bryant left a game fearing a concussion after colliding with the shortstop on a headfirst slide into second base in Milwaukee. He returned two days later and swore off headfirst slides, even mentioning friend Cory Hahn, an Arizona State player who was paralyzed from the chest down on a collision while sliding headfirst in 2011.

Kris Bryant was injured on this play in the first inning of the Cubs' win against the Braves on Wednesday.

“I only have one head. I have one life,” he said then.

Fast-forward to Wednesday, when Bryant tried to advance from second on a ball dropped by the catcher. He jammed his left hand on the cleat of Braves third baseman Johan Camargo when sliding into the bag. In addition to suffering a cut near his fingernail, Bryant’s pinkie and ring fingers splayed, causing a sprain in the crease at the base of the fingers.

He left the game, and his status for the weekend series against the Cardinals is uncertain.

Unlike in 2015, he vows no change in the way he does business on the bases.

“As much as you want to [change] — I don’t know if there’s any sports science on it — but I feel like I get there quicker headfirst and am more elusive,” he said.

Maddon: No help needed

General manager Jed Hoyer said Wednesday that the Cubs plan to “be on the lookout for a bunch of different things” toward the July 31 deadline.

Manager Joe Maddon said he wouldn’t be surprised to see the front office add pitching (and maybe a catcher) — “although, honestly, I believe we’ve got what we need right here, right now,’’ he said.

The Cubs are riding a season-high six-game winning streak out of the All-Star break, scoring 7.3 runs per game, with the starting pitchers going 5-0 with a 1.14 ERA the last full turn through the rotation.

“It’s starting to trend properly again,” said Maddon, who already got a significant boost with the acquisition of Jose Quintana.

“If we don’t get anything else, it’s not going to bother me in the least,” he said. “The guys are here, and it’s just about us playing with the consistency that we know we’re capable of.”

Weekend Pitching Matchups

  • Friday: Carlos Martinez (6-8, 3.36 ERA) vs. Jake Arrieta (9-7, 4.17), 1:20 p.m., Ch. 7, 670-AM.
  • Saturday: Adam Wainwright (11-5, 5.08) vs. Jon Lester (6-6, 4.07), 3:05 p.m., CSN, FS1, 670-AM.
  • Sunday: Michael Wacha (7-3, 3.71) vs. Jose Quintana (5-8, 4.20), 7:05 p.m., ESPN, 670-AM.

Follow me on Twitter @GDubCub

Email: gwittenmyer@suntimes.com


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