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Bryant isn't holding back on in-game swings

Cubs slugger cautious in BP, but letting go when it counts
MLB.com @CarrieMuskat

PHOENIX -- Kris Bryant is using the two-handed grip on his swing when he's in the batting cages, but the Cubs third baseman is just going natural when he's in a game.

Bryant missed all of August because of a sore left shoulder and has changed the way he practices in hopes of not aggravating it. On Monday, he hit his first home run since July 21, and it looked like one of his swings from before he went on the disabled list for six weeks.

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PHOENIX -- Kris Bryant is using the two-handed grip on his swing when he's in the batting cages, but the Cubs third baseman is just going natural when he's in a game.

Bryant missed all of August because of a sore left shoulder and has changed the way he practices in hopes of not aggravating it. On Monday, he hit his first home run since July 21, and it looked like one of his swings from before he went on the disabled list for six weeks.

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"In practice in the cages, I try to limit the intensity of the swings, but in the game I think my natural instincts take over, and that's how I've always swung and how I've always played the game," Bryant said Tuesday. "I don't think I'll change it any.

"I feel good, my shoulder feels good. It felt good from the first game I got back, so that's great. I think we're doing all the right things, which is good to figure out early on."

Since coming off the DL on Sept. 1, Bryant is batting .320 with one home run, five doubles and five RBIs. He's not trying to rush his return.

"I'm just being myself," Bryant said. "I've seen some good progress since I've come off the DL. Hopefully, we continue to do that and start getting hot at the right time."

However, that first week after he was activated was tough because he hadn't been on the field at all.

"Just like Spring Training, when you haven't played for a while and you get out there and have some rust on you," Bryant said, "as you start to see more pitches, it becomes more familiar, and I feel that's where I'm at right now."

Cubs hand out Minor League awards
The Cubs named infielder Jared Young and right-handed pitcher Matt Swarmer the organization's Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Year, respectively. They will be honored prior to the Cubs' game on Sept. 27 at Wrigley Field.

Young, 23, batted .300 with 19 doubles, eight triples, 16 homers and 76 RBIs in 120 games between Class A South Bend and Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach. He began the year with South Bend, hitting .313 with 13 doubles, six triples, 10 homers and 53 RBIs in 69 games as he earned Midwest League midseason All-Star honors.

Young was a 15th-round pick in 2017 out of Old Dominion University.

Swarmer, 24, went 9-8 with a 3.22 ERA in 24 starts between Myrtle Beach and Double-A Tennessee. He struck out 135 batters while walking 21, good for a 6.43 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He began the season with Myrtle Beach, going 5-2 with a 2.28 ERA and 59 strikeouts in nine starts to earn Carolina League midseason All-Star honors. He was named Cubs Minor League Pitcher of the Month in April after going 2-2 with a 1.74 ERA in four starts. Promoted to Tennessee on June 5, Swarmer posted a 3.84 ERA in 15 starts with the Smokies, striking out 76 batters and walking 14.

Selected by the Cubs in the 19th round of the 2016 Draft out of Kutztown University, Swarmer was named All-Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference First Team in 2016.

Neither player ranked among MLB Pipeline's Top 30 Cubs Prospects for 2018.

Worth noting
• The Cubs flip-flopped Jose Quintana and Jon Lester so Lester can get an extra day heading into the Interleague series against the White Sox this weekend. Quintana will start Friday against his former team, looking for his career-best 14th win. Lester, who had to come out of a recent start because of back spasms, will go on Saturday. The extra day is more of a "proactive move," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said Tuesday.

• Speaking of the White Sox series, who will the Cubs use as the designated hitter? It could be Kyle Schwarber or Daniel Murphy, Maddon said. Schwarber did not accompany the Cubs to Arizona because he's been dealing with a bad back. However, if he can play the outfield, Murphy may be the DH.

"In a perfect world, right-handed pitchers, playing in that ballpark, I'd like to get Schwarbs out there and mix and match on the infield and let Murph pick up those at-bats [as the DH]," Maddon said.

• On Tuesday, Maddon took part in a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Cardon Children's Medical Center in Mesa, Ariz. Maddon's Respect 90 Foundation helped renovate the pediatric outpatient treatment rooms there. In keeping with the child friendly environment, each room is uniquely decorated and, of course, there is a baseball theme.

The project was funded by money raised during the Respect Bald event held during Spring Training. There is even a toy room named after Taylor Davis and Pierce Johnson, both of whom had their long hair cut for the event. Teammates raised about $80,000 to coax them to do so.

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

Chicago Cubs, Kris Bryant