Posted on June 27, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine
As they chase another division title, the Chicago Cubs have been struck with another injury to a key player. Tuesday night, the Cubs placed third baseman Kris Bryant on the 10-day DL with shoulder inflammation. Bryant insists the issue is a minor one. Nevertheless, the Cubs are going to give him at least 10 days to rest, although it’s possible his stay on the DL extends beyond that.
Bryant says he first injured the shoulder about a month ago on a slide. He says the problem became worse by spending too much time in the batting cage. Bryant describes the injury as “soreness” and insists the issue isn’t as bad as when he first hurt it. However, after not playing since Friday, the club finally decided to put him on the DL.
“I think I may have tried to play through it and come back too quick,” explains Bryant. “It wasn’t anything debilitating, but swinging more, it kind of flared up. … We just want it to calm down so it’s not a recurring problem.”
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A problem with his shoulder could be the cause for Bryant’s offensive struggles over the past month. On the season, Bryant is hitting .280 with an OPS of .864. The Cubs will gladly take that. However, his power numbers are noticeably down from what he’s produced the past couple of seasons. Bryant also has an OPS of just .707 during the month of June, which would be troubling if he didn’t have a shoulder injury to blame.
That being said, Bryant insists the shoulder isn’t the reason for the swoon in his power. On Tuesday, he said with a wry smile that the wind at Wrigley Field was to blame. Of course, his recent absence from the lineup coincided with the Cubs losing five straight games until Tuesday’s win over the Dodgers. Bryant says the frustration of being active but not playing was part of the reason for going on the DL.
“That’s the worst part — me sitting on the bench knowing it was only a 24-man bench and (Cubs manager Joe Maddon) having to send up pitchers to pinch-hit, that’s such a terrible feeling to be in,” Bryant said. “It’s a disservice to the team.”
With Bryant on the DL, Javier Baez is likely to shift over to third base. That leaves Ben Zobrist to get a majority of the playing time at second base. Zobrist playing primarily at second base takes away some of Chicago’s outfield versatility. Tommy La Stella is also an option at both positions, although he’s struggled offensively all season. Rookie David Bote, who’s taking Bryant’s roster spot, could also see some opportunities to play.
Obviously, Bryant is not the only big bat in Chicago’s lineup. However, with their recent losing streak, the Cubs have fallen 2.5 games behind the Brewers in the NL Central. They still own the top spot in the wild-card race. But there are at least eight teams in the race for those two spots. Any time spent without Bryant in the lineup can potentially harm their playoff chances. Of course, in the long run, the Cubs undoubtedly need a healthy Bryant in the middle of their lineup every day.