Bryant returns to injured list with ailing back

May 25th, 2022

PITTSBURGH -- Realizing his ailing back would not allow him to perform at his accustomed level, Rockies left fielder Kris Bryant went back to the 10-day injured list on Wednesday.

Bryant missed 21 games with the injury. After a brief injury rehab assignment at Triple-A Albuquerque, he returned for games Saturday and Sunday against the Mets. He traveled with the team to Pittsburgh and was in the lineup Monday, but was scratched when he reported that his back did not feel good. So Bryant’s IL placement is retroactive to Monday, although the return date will depend on how he feels.

“I don’t know if I want to say it’s a flare-up,” Bryant said. “Sometimes it’s hard to replicate a big league game, as much as you want to. When you’re rehabbing and you go down there, it’s more like you go through the motions, touch and feel.

“We weren't where we wanted to be yet. And that's OK. Sometimes it happens. It's frustrating, but better to speak up and say something.”

In his first year of a seven-year, $182 million contract, Bryant is batting .270 with four doubles, four RBIs and no home runs. He was signed to add power to the lineup, but a slow start and the back problem have precluded that. No examination has revealed structural damage, so the Rockies believe the best of Bryant will soon arrive. They just don’t know when.

“Hopefully through the next week to 10 days, he’ll be able to recover and feel great about getting back on the field again,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “These are hard to gauge. We'll go day to day, and hopefully there's marked improvement as we go.

“Kris will obviously be honest with us about how he feels, because he wants to be out there. He wants to play. He’s frustrated. But there's truly no timetable. But what is encouraging [is] that this is not a situation where you're [feeling] a ton of discomfort. It just seems limited.”

By signing Bryant and trading for outfielder Randal Grichuk, the Rockies hoped to increase their power profile as part of their strategy for offensive production on the road, which has long been a challenge. The Rockies hit eight home runs in their first 10 road games of 2022, but they entered Wednesday’s series finale against the Pirates having not homered in their previous nine road contests, though C.J. Cron snapped that stretch with a solo home run in the third inning.

“We certainly look for [Bryant] to be on the field because he's a good player, but he's got to get his health sorted out before we can really get him back,” veteran outfielder/designated hitter Charlie Blackmon said.