'Abundance of caution': KB kept out of lineup

August 14th, 2020

CHICAGO -- managed to launch a home run with a sore left wrist on Wednesday night, but lingering soreness convinced manager David Ross to hold the star out of the starting lineup against the Brewers in the first two games of this weekend's four-game set.

"I want to take the hesitation out of the players," Ross said prior to Friday's game. "Because it can really create bad habits in just one game, where you're thinking about how your hand or your knee or a small sprain or bruise or something that may be bothering you. I just want to take that off his plate, give him another day to get treatment, see how it feels."

“Just [out of an] abundance of caution,” Ross said prior to Thursday’s game. “Making sure everything checks out.”

In Wednesday's 7-2 win in Cleveland, Bryant rolled his wrist and tweaked his left ring finger on a dive attempt in left field in the fifth inning, when he was trying to snag a flared fly ball off the bat of César Hernández. Bryant could be seen rubbing his wrist after the play, but he remained in the game, launched a two-out home run in the top of the sixth and was eventually replaced defensively by Albert Almora Jr. in the eighth.

"I'm OK. I'm fine," Bryant said after the win. "I mean, it doesn't feel great, but that's what happens when you dive in the outfield. A lot of times you're rolling your wrist all over, and me not playing out there too often, I just try to make the most of it."

Bryant was in the initial lineup as the Cubs' leadoff man on Thursday, but he was scratched a few hours before first pitch. On Friday morning, he texted Ross and let him know that the wrist was still a little stiff, leading the manager to take a cautious approach.

Ross noted that Bryant did take swings after Thursday's 4-2 win over the Brewers and "there were some positives in that." The manager said the third baseman would be available off the bench Friday, as long as his pregame workout went fine without any setbacks.

"I don't think it's a huge concern," Ross said. "But I just -- as you can tell with a lot of these guys -- I just want to use some caution."

Quintana watch
Ross indicated that he chatted with lefty José Quintana, who is on the 10-day injured list (left thumb), on Thursday to get more feedback from the pitcher on Tuesday’s three-inning simulated game. The next step will be a four-inning simulated game on Sunday at the Cubs' alternate training site in South Bend, Ind.

“He feels like he had a really good outing and wants to continue to build,” Ross said Thursday. “No hesitation on any of his pitches. I think he still feels like he's got some work to do. He talked about not feeling quite sharp out of the stretch yet, which is totally normal.”

On Friday, Ross added that Quintana is not currently viewed as an option for the upcoming series against the Cardinals.

"I think he's still a little bit away," Ross said. "I think we'll get a lot of feedback from Sunday. Rushing a guy like that that's so important just doesn't make a lot of sense in this scenario, for me."

Planning for the Cardinals
MLB announced Friday that the Cubs and Cardinals will play three doubleheaders to make up the Aug. 7-9 series at Busch Stadium that was postponed.

The rivals will have twin bills on Monday (starting at 4:15 p.m. CT), Wednesday (1:20 p.m. CT) and Sept. 5 (4:15 p.m. CT). St. Louis will play as the home team in the second game of each doubleheader.

On Friday, Ross was not ready to reveal any pitching plans for the upcoming three-day, five-game series against the Cardinals. The manager named Colin Rea, Justin Steele, Adbert Alzolay, Tyson Miller and Rex Brothers as options who are stretched out.

"We're gonna wait," Ross said of naming probable pitchers. "I don't want to put myself too much in a box leading up to that."

Ross staying flexible in ninth
Right-hander Rowan Wick worked the ninth inning in Thursday's 4-2 win, picking up his team-leading third save of the season. After the game, the manager was asked if Wick, or anyone else, has officially been named the team's closer.

"I haven't named anybody. I have not," Ross said. "How lineups are shaped, how guys are throwing a ball, who's rested, pitch characteristics with swing characteristics come into play. Pockets of the lineup come into play. ... There's a lot that goes into it, and there's guys that we trust in the back end. There's multiple guys that we trust."

“It's the joy of the game that we're playing for right now. And I think it's really showing that we're just playing, basically, high school summer baseball right now. That's how we feel like we're playing. Just going out and playing baseball and not worrying about if someone's hitting .500, if someone's hitting under .200. It's just, let's win, let's pick each other up and figure it out.” -- Anthony Rizzo