Notes: KB back in lineup; Alzolay progresses

June 18th, 2021

NEW YORK -- ’s right hand contusion wasn’t ever considered to be very serious, but that doesn’t mean David Ross wasn’t elated to pencil the former National League Most Valuable Player back into the lineup Thursday night.

“It’s a big relief,” the manager said.

Bryant was hit by a pitch on the hand in the first inning of Tuesday’s game against the Mets, exiting the following inning. He sat out Wednesday’s contest to rest his sore hand, taking dry swings in the afternoon and some swings in the cage during the game.

Following some more treatment Wednesday, Bryant told Ross and team trainers that he felt “much better toward the end of the game,” Ross said.

Thursday morning, Ross reached out to Bryant to gauge his availability for the series finale at Citi Field.

“He said, ‘We're good to go; put me in,’” Ross said. “I trust in him. I'm sure he's not 100 percent, but the fact that he's willing to go, that's a good sign.”

Bryant has been the Cubs’ most productive all-around hitter this season, hitting 13 home runs with a .918 OPS in 62 games heading into Thursday's action. Starting at third base, he immediately made his presence felt, singling in his first at-bat and scoring on Javier Báez's two-run homer in the first inning of the Cubs' 2-0 victory. Bryant finished 1-for-4.

Making progress
threw a 40-pitch bullpen session that Ross said “went really well,” moving the right-hander one step closer to a return from the injured list. Alzolay has been sidelined with a blister on his right middle finger, an issue that forced him from his June 7 start and landed him on the IL.

If Alzolay reports no issues with the finger on Friday, the Cubs will formulate a plan to get him into a game, though it remains to be seen whether he will need a rehab assignment before returning.

The 26-year-old is 4-5 with a 4.06 ERA in 11 starts this season, striking out 62 batters over 57 2/3 innings. Ross has been impressed with Alzolay’s demeanor both on the mound and away from the field, especially as he works his way back from his minor injury.

“He's gotten his work in, he's in getting his treatment,” Ross said. “This guy crushes the weight room in his down days. He has found his routine as a big leaguer, found his ability to stay ready, and I think he’s done a really nice job of that. Rooting guys on, he’s good energy in the dugout. We definitely miss his performance out there on the mound when he's right, but he's done nothing but try to get back as fast as he possibly can. We're looking forward to getting back here hopefully soon.”

Extra bases
• LHP Justin Steele (right hamstring strain) threw a bullpen session on Wednesday, reporting no issues on Thursday.

• RHP Trevor Williams (appendectomy) threw a 25-pitch bullpen session on Thursday.