Bryant shakes off pinkie, delivers in return

Defending NL MVP misses just 1 game with sprain, plates tying run, scores go-ahead run

July 22nd, 2017

CHICAGO -- is not only a fast healer but a really good baserunner, and he provided a spark Saturday for the Cubs. The third baseman, who missed just one game with a sprained left pinkie finger, was back in the lineup at Wrigley Field and delivered a game-tying RBI single, then scored the game-winning run on 's double in the Cubs' 3-2 win over the Cardinals.
"It's nice that he came back so quickly," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of Bryant, who also missed time in late June with a sore ankle. "I talked to him on the bench [Friday], and we decided to wait until today to decide if he can play or not."
Bryant, who sprained his finger sliding headfirst on Wednesday in Atlanta, tested his hand while hitting in the batting cages on Friday. After a lot of ice and treatment, Bryant took some more swings on Saturday and said he was ready to go.
"It didn't feel too good [on Friday], but it was encouraging that I was able to actually swing," Bryant said. "I was very fortunate. I've watched the replay a lot, and it didn't look too good. When I was sliding, I thought it was a lot worse. I'm glad I was able to get on the field that quick."

Bryant's hand was still wrapped after Saturday's game, and there's still some soreness.
"There's a difference between pain and soreness," Maddon said. "If a guy's actually in pain, you don't want him to play. If he describes it as being sore, then go ahead and play."

The reigning National League Most Valuable Player Award winner, Bryant singled in the first inning off the Cardinals' and grounded out in his next two at-bats before the Cubs' three-run eighth. Chicago trailed, 2-1, and was on second when Bryant faced .
"[Bowman], you know he's got a sinker and he likes to throw it inside," Bryant said. "Me, I was trying to go up the middle. That's where I've been struggling this year. With guys on base, I want to do too much. [I wanted to stay] through the middle, and the bat broke and flew."
replaced Bowman, and Rizzo hit a ball into the gap in left-center for a double. Bryant scored despite a throw home from center fielder .

"I don't know if Dexter or [left fielder] Tommy Pham got a good read, but right when [Rizzo] hit it, I didn't see them anywhere close to it, so I thought there was a pretty good chance I could score," Bryant said.
It was a full count to Rizzo when he connected, which helped Bryant get a little bit of a head-start.

"It's something I take pride in, is my baserunning and surprising people, and hopefully I did that today," Bryant said.
The win was just what the Cubs needed after Friday's game in which they gave up nine runs in the eighth inning to lose, 11-4. Bryant was on the bench then.
"One guy makes that kind of difference in your lineup, and one guy gives an entirely different feel to the other team," Maddon said. "You always want to write his name down. Always."
The key question is whether Bryant will slide headfirst again.
"I'll still slide headfirst," Bryant said. "It's instincts. I know that when I'm playing third base, and someone slides headfirst, I have a tough time. Especially with replay now, you really have to tag them. Me with my big feet and big legs, I'm pretty easy to tag. It's tough to break a habit like that."