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Confident in new grip, KB close to rehabbing

Darvish's frustration familiar to Mills; Duensing progressing in Minors
August 25, 2018

CHICAGO -- Kristopher Bryant (KB) could begin a Minor League rehab assignment on Monday, and the Cubs can't wait to get him back, manager Joe Maddon (Pino) said Saturday."The term I use is that it lengthens the lineup," Maddon said about getting Bryant back. "You look at these names and,

CHICAGO -- Kristopher Bryant (KB) could begin a Minor League rehab assignment on Monday, and the Cubs can't wait to get him back, manager Joe Maddon (Pino) said Saturday.
"The term I use is that it lengthens the lineup," Maddon said about getting Bryant back. "You look at these names and, wow, you're placing guys farther below who maybe had been up higher based on the thickness of the lineup. When he does come back, I don't want to expect everything out of him. Just go play and we'll take what happens after that. I think he looks great right now. Go play, get your at-bats and whenever that right moment occurs, it'll occur."
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Bryant has been sidelined since July 24 because of left shoulder inflammation, and he is now using a two-handed grip during batting practice to avoid putting more stress on his shoulder at the end of his swing.
"I can just tell by how he's reacting how good he feels," Maddon said.
Cubs athletic trainer PJ Mainville talked to Bryant about making the switch when he practices. Bryant said he'll try to use it in games as well.
"I honestly think I feel even better," Bryant said. "I've got to bring the contact point a little further back in my swing, and I feel like I'm hitting balls further. I feel like before I was only really hitting the ball with one, one and a half hands connected to the bat, and now I feel like I'm using two hands. I think this will be pretty good for me."
Bryant has tested it on the field twice -- once in Detroit and again on Saturday at Wrigley Field. One of his final swings on Saturday resulted in a long ball that hit the video scoreboard in left field, prompting applause from fans on a Wrigley Field tour.

"I play a lot of golf in the offseason, and it's kind of like a golf swing," Bryant said. "It feels and I feel a lot more powerful. I feel like I'm hitting the ball further. That's why I wanted to take multiple rounds of [batting practice] on the field to get used to that before I actually get out there and play some games."
The Cubs aren't insisting that Bryant change his grip during games, but rather, that he do what is natural.
"It feels like when I was in college and widened out my stance," Bryant said. "I used to hit straight up when I was a freshman, and in my sophomore year, I widened my stance and that was a game-changer for me."
Maddon just wants Bryant to do what feels comfortable.
"Just go play -- if the hand comes off, it comes off," Maddon said. "Don't intentionally try to keep two hands on the bat in the game. Practice intentionally, but when you play, just go play."
There is no set number of at-bats for Bryant, and the Cubs have yet to announce where he will play. Triple-A Iowa is not at home until Tuesday.
"I felt good today," Bryant said. "I'm ready to go."
Bryant will take part in a simulated game on Sunday, facing Drew Smyly (Smiles), and then the team will make a decision as to where he'll play.

Worth noting
Alec Mills (Millsy) can understand the frustration that Yu Darvish (Yu-san) felt trying to pitch while still feeling pain in his right elbow. Darvish was diagnosed on Tuesday with a stress reaction in his right elbow, and he is done for the season. Mills had the same injury last year.
"It was the same sort of thing," Mills said. "I felt something early on, shut it down, and I don't remember the time period, but maybe it was a couple weeks. I tried to throw again. I think I threw three or four innings, it was the same sort of thing as Yu. It's like 'Hey, I'm done, this really hurts.'
"I went and saw the doctors in Chicago, and I think it took them a while to find it even with the correct MRI," said Mills, who also eventually underwent an arthrogram. "I think it's a difficult thing to find. It's not like a break or a crack, but just the beginning of one."
Darvish said he felt relief that the doctors were finally able to diagnose what was wrong. Mills felt the same way.
"It was a relief," Mills said. "[Now I knew] I'm not a wuss, there really is something wrong with me and we got it diagnosed and have the right treatment on it."
The Cubs are still sorting out their rotation plans, and they have yet to announce the next step for Mills, who struck out eight over 5 2/3 innings on Friday against the Reds.
• Left-hander Brian Duensing (Deuce) gave up one hit and walked one in one inning with Iowa on Friday night as part of his rehab assignment. He's been rehabbing from left shoulder inflammation.

• Bryant may not be playing this weekend, but he's doing his part to raise money and awareness for Wings for Life and Spinal Cord Research by auctioning off three pairs of custom-designed shoes that were created by Chicago artists. Bryant became involved in the organization because of Cory Hahn, an Arizona State student athlete who was paralyzed from the chst down during his third game of his freshman season in 2011.
"I met him when I was in grade school and played a couple showcases with him," Bryant said of Hahn. "His first series in college ball, he slides right into the guy at second base and he's paralyzed. It's so sad. I'm doing a small part to help out. I feel really good to do stuff like this."

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.