“He looked really good at the plate,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said.
Bryant was the designated hitter after missing two games in the wake of Sunday’s outfield collision with Jason Heyward.
“I felt good a lot sooner than I thought,” Bryant said. “I did everything yesterday. Everything felt good. That’s all I needed to see to give me the confidence I’m totally fine.”
Javier Baez, who’d served as the DH to rest a bruised heel in the first two games of the Cubs-Astros series, started at third base.
Bryant underwent a battery of tests in the days after the collision to make sure he had not suffered a concussion. He described the symptoms as “mild.”
“There’s a process we as players have to go through when you come out of a game with a head injury,” he said. “I guess I just moreso appreciate the doctors and the league taking care of us in that way.”
He expected to be back at third base on Wednesday, but said one more game with slightly less stress probably was smart.
“I guess that’s the thought process behind it,” Bryant said. “The team doctor thought that was the best course of action. Since we’re in an American League park, we’re able to do that.”
Of the collision itself, he said, “I kind of felt like I got blindsided or tackled. I never played football, but maybe that’s what it feels like. Running into J-Hey is no joke. He’s a big dude. I’m pretty big, too. It’s a big collision.”
The Cubs finish a stretch of playing 16 straight days with a scheduled day off on Thursday before beginning a series in St. Louis on Friday. They’d also played 26 times in 27 days, and the Cubs had lost five of six.
Bryant is putting the finishing touches on a huge month, having batted .341 with 10 home runs and five doubles in 25 games. He raised his overall batting average from .230 to .283.
The Cubs do not know if Ben Zobrist will return this season. But they’re prepared for that possibility.
“I have to think that way, absolutely,” Maddon told the Chicago Sun-Times. “I hope that’s not the case. But he’s at the point now where if he chose to come back, it’s going to take him a while to get back up to speed, too. We have to mentally be prepared that we will not have him.”