Bryant returns from DL, launches 2-run homer

Third baseman vows to 'keep strengthening' shoulder; Maddon starting Hendricks on normal rest

July 11th, 2018

SAN FRANCISCO -- returned to the Cubs' starting lineup on Wednesday afternoon at AT&T Park, playing third base and hitting third. He launched a two-run homer in the fifth inning off Giants starter .

The big fly drove in , who singled earlier in the frame and homered in the third inning, to pull Chicago within a run of San Francisco. The Cubs fell in the 13th inning, 5-4, on 's walk-off single.

"I actually felt really good at the plate today," Bryant said. "I felt like I saw a ton of pitches, except for that last at-bat. I think if I keep doing that, everything will come back real quick. It was a nice first day.

"If I can find a way to hit the ball on the fat part of the bat more often, then I'll have a lot more home runs. It's as simple as that."

Bryant was optimistic about the sore left shoulder that had sidelined him since June 23.

"I'm sure there are going to be days in the future when it feels sore, but right now it feels pretty good," Bryant said.

The third baseman is going to take extra measures and do additional stretches to avoid another stint on the disabled list.

"I've got to keep strengthening it," Bryant said about his left shoulder. "As well as my other shoulder, too. It's just a matter of maintaining our bodies. That's all it's really going to be the rest of the way."

The Cubs went 10-6 in Bryant's absence.

"It took a little of the pressure off of me, just being down and feeling kind of helpless," Bryant said. "So it was nice to see the team step up and perform. I don't want to say it was fun to watch, because I wasn't having fun on the DL, but it was great that they took care of business."

Manager Joe Maddon doesn't anticipate any restrictions on Bryant, but he acknowledged potentially giving the former National League Most Valuable Player Award winner more rest.

"Maybe I have to be more proactive giving him a day off now and then," Maddon said. "I'm going to find that out in conversation. We're prepared to do that if we have to.

"He just had half a month off, and he's got a couple more days off [over the All-Star break]. That's like an eternity for a regular position player. I think he should be in pretty good shape moving forward."

Hendricks starting on normal rest

had his best outing of the season on Monday, throwing 8 1/3 innings in a tough no-decision. The right-hander struck out eight and did not allow an earned run.

With an off-day on Thursday, the Cubs' rotation will receive an extra day of rest. Maddon has elected to start Hendricks on Saturday and on Sunday. It will be a normal four days of rest for Hendricks.

"We thought that Kyle was in the best position, physically, to come out of the break and have possibly the least amount of time off," Maddon said. "That's why we let him pitch on regular rest."