Bryant (oblique) 'better', but no timetable

Cubs third baseman optimistic that injury will not be long term

September 22nd, 2020

Cubs manager David Ross said the good news right now is that reported that he was feeling better on Tuesday. Where that leads for Chicago and its third baseman is truly a day-to-day situation with less than a week left in the regular season.

Prior to Tuesday's game against the Pirates at PNC Park, Ross noted that Bryant was undergoing treatment on his right oblique, which he tweaked on a swing in Monday's 5-0 victory. The goal right now would be to get Bryant at-bats before the playoffs, if possible.

"I want him to be healthy, right?" Ross said. "But I also feel like he wants the at-bats and needs the at-bats, as well. I think it's a balance between protecting him and making sure it doesn't get worse, which is No. 1 priority, and doesn't really make it a serious injury."

Ross noted that Bryant has not yet had an MRI exam, and he expressed hope that this was not a long-term setback or an injury that warrants a trip to the injured list. That said, the manager did not have a timetable for a potential return for Bryant, who will be evaluated daily by the Cubs' medical team.

Ross called an oblique issue a "really unique injury," noting that he had a similar episode during his playing career. The manager said it can feel fine, but then "strenuous" activity can make it clear that something is still not right. As of Tuesday, Bryant told Ross there was still stiffness, but it was improved from Monday night.

"To me, that's a good sign," Ross said. "I don't think we're anywhere where I feel like putting him in the lineup, but better is good news. ... I'm still optimistic it's not an IL thing right now, which is nice. That means there's still hope. The trainers are optimistic. He seems optimistic. Yeah, it's kind of a wait-and-see."

Related

In 32 games this season, Bryant has hit .195/.283/.301 with two home runs and five RBIs for the Cubs.

While Bryant is sidelined, Ross' primary option at third base will be David Bote, who took over for Bryant on Monday night and was in the lineup on Tuesday. The manager did note, however, that Bote has been fighting some minor injury issues as well, so Nico Hoerner could also see action at third.

Ross was asked if the Cubs would consider resting Bryant for the rest of the regular season, while preparing for the Wild Card Series.

"I know he wants to be in there and continue to find his rhythm at the plate," Ross said. "I don't know if I have a preference, but I would like him to be healthy and get the at-bats."

Worth noting
• Ross said it is unclear right now whether utility man Ildemaro Vargas will be ready in time for the postseason. Vargas was placed on the 10-day IL on Monday (retroactive to Sunday) with a right hamstring strain.

"We're hoping on Vargy," Ross said. "The hammy's a sensitive spot that he's dealt with in the past. The trainers are being overly cautious on that stuff."

• The Cubs optioned lefty Rex Brothers to the alternate training site in South Bend, Ind., on Tuesday, clearing an active roster spot for lefty José Quintana to be activated from the IL for his start against the Pirates.

Quotable
"He's smart. He knows his swing. I think he knows where his zone is and he sizes up the pitchers well. He studies, I think, more like a new-age player with percentages and knowing how the pitcher might attack him and how that sets up for his at-bat. He does that off the bench. He does that in-game if they change pitchers. He's very thought-out in his process." -- Ross, on Bote's success in high-leverage moments