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Bryant set to start rehab stint, nearing return

Cubs third baseman could join team this week in San Francisco
MLB.com @CarrieMuskat

CHICAGO -- Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant said the last time he missed this many baseball games was when his mother grounded him after he was ejected for arguing with an umpire. Bryant is close to returning from the disabled list and will begin a rehab assignment with Double-A Tennessee on Monday. He could rejoin the Cubs in San Francisco this week.

"It's just a feel thing," Bryant said about how much time he'll need in the Minors. "I don't think it'll be anything long. Honestly, just hitting in [batting practice] and in the cages, I feel my timing is pretty good. Just for comfort and for the team, you don't want to go out there and not have the timing right."

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CHICAGO -- Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant said the last time he missed this many baseball games was when his mother grounded him after he was ejected for arguing with an umpire. Bryant is close to returning from the disabled list and will begin a rehab assignment with Double-A Tennessee on Monday. He could rejoin the Cubs in San Francisco this week.

"It's just a feel thing," Bryant said about how much time he'll need in the Minors. "I don't think it'll be anything long. Honestly, just hitting in [batting practice] and in the cages, I feel my timing is pretty good. Just for comfort and for the team, you don't want to go out there and not have the timing right."

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Bryant has been sidelined since June 23 because of inflammation in his left shoulder, which he has only felt when batting. Can he deal with the discomfort the rest of the season?

"I don't know," Bryant said. "It'll depend on my stubbornness, and if I go out there and take the right amount of swings each day or take too many. It's just managing the workload. If I do that, I'll be good."

It's been difficult for Bryant to be on the sidelines and watch, but the Cubs have done well in his absence, posting an 8-2 record heading into Sunday's series finale against the Reds.

"You see the guys out there, and thankfully, they've been playing really well," Bryant said. "I guess that's taken some pressure off me. At the same time, you want to be out there enjoying it with them. It's just been really boring, really boring for me to sit back and not be out there. I guess it's refueled some of the excitement for getting out there on the field. I can't wait to get out there."

"We have missed him," manager Joe Maddon said. "We've kept our heads above water. An MVP, All-Star player, we do need him back."

The Cubs open a three-game series against the Giants on Monday at AT&T Park, and they have not ruled out having Bryant join the team there.

"Like all the guys on rehab, I tell them, 'Tell me how you feel,'" Maddon said. "'This is what we're planning, but if you need more time, take more time. If not, we can possibly work you into San Francisco.'"

Bryant said he will avoid aggravating the shoulder injury if he can avoid sliding head first.

"Sometimes you're diving for balls at third base, and you can't control that," Bryant said. "Fielding the ball and throwing the ball, I never felt it there."

When was the last time he missed this much baseball?

"Maybe when my mom grounded me as a kid," Bryant said. "I can't remember a time when I've been forced to be away from the baseball field. I've been really fortunate. You're going to hit bumps in the road and this is certainly one of them. You learn a lot along the way. You learn to take better care of your body."

Duensing heading to Tennessee
Left-hander Brian Duensing, on the disabled list since July 1 because of fatigue in his shoulder, will join Bryant at Tennessee for his rehab outings. With Bryant, Duensing expected back and Yu Darvish (right triceps tendinitis) to return, the Cubs may not need to make a big move at the non-waiver Trade Deadline.

"[Darvish] really has not had a chance to blossom here, and what he's capable of doing is so high end, it's hard to find any of those out there anywhere," Maddon said. "If we get Yu back clicking like he's capable, that truly is a wonderful Deadline kind of acquisition."

The players who have filled in, such as Randy Rosario, David Bote and Mike Montgomery, have done well, Maddon said.

Bass lands on DL
The Cubs placed right-handed pitcher Anthony Bass on the 10-day disabled list, retroactive to Wednesday, because of an illness, and selected the contract of right-handed pitcher James Norwood from Triple-A Iowa.

Norwood, 24, was 1-2 with two saves and a 2.13 ERA in 29 relief appearances between Tennessee and Iowa this season. He struck out 44 and walked 12 over 38 innings.

Bass, 30, has given up one earned run over 14 1/3 innings in 14 relief appearances for the Cubs.

With the addition of Norwood, the 40-man roster is at 38.

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

Chicago Cubs, Anthony Bass, Kris Bryant, Brian Duensing