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Bryant pain-free after taking dry swings

Slugger pleased with slow but steady rehab process: 'What we're doing is working '
MLB.com @CarrieMuskat

CHICAGO -- Kris Bryant was finally allowed to pick up a bat and take some swings, and the best news for the third baseman and the Cubs is that he didn't feel any pain in his left shoulder.

Bryant, sidelined since July 24 with inflammation in his left shoulder, is only taking what are called "dry swings," which means he's not in the batting cage yet, but it's another step in the process.

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CHICAGO -- Kris Bryant was finally allowed to pick up a bat and take some swings, and the best news for the third baseman and the Cubs is that he didn't feel any pain in his left shoulder.

Bryant, sidelined since July 24 with inflammation in his left shoulder, is only taking what are called "dry swings," which means he's not in the batting cage yet, but it's another step in the process.

View Full Game Coverage

"It's still going slow, but that seems to be the smart thing to do," Bryant said Saturday. "It's nothing super crazy -- it is nice to be able to pick up a bat."

The Cubs have taken a slow approach to build up strength in his shoulder. No pain is a good thing.

"It means what we're doing is working and the right thing," Bryant said. "Hopefully, it makes me a better player. There's things I need to maintain with my body, and hopefully this will make me stronger. As much as it stinks to be on the [disabled list], I look at it as a win for me."

Video: ARI@CHC: Cubs broadcast on Bryant going to the DL

There is no timetable for Bryant's return. What will change is how much time he spends in the batting cages pregame in the future.

"I think where the problem started coming from is I was taking game-like swings in the cage and in B.P. and off the machine," Bryant said. "In the game, you're taking maybe five to 10 swings a day at that intensity. ... That's the plan going forward is to practice a little slower in the cage and in batting practice."

Cubs manager Joe Maddon is not a proponent of batting practice, so he was glad to hear that Bryant will limit his time in the cage.

"Do your work and do enough of it to get to that level where it feels good and right and then get away," Maddon said. "You're just going to either develop bad habits or eventually wear your body down to the point where it does break down and all the good things you think you did in the past are counterproductive."

Bryant, 26, should benefit down the road.

"It's good for me to realize that you can't keep going every day and swinging and swinging and swinging," he said. "It's good for me to see early in my career. It's nice to change things here and there -- I want to play until I'm 40. I'm glad this happened early."

Worth noting

• Cubs catcher Willson Contreras and first baseman Anthony Rizzo were able to pick off the Nationals' Juan Soto at first base on Friday, a play the two have perfected.

"It was first and second with no outs," Contreras said. "I was looking at the runner and he was giving his back to first base. From that position, to get back to first is going to be tough. You have to turn around and it's going to take some seconds to get to first base. It was a special play because once I looked, Rizzo gave me the sign. We thought it was the right time. We finally did it, and it worked out for us. It was amazing."

Video: WSH@CHC: Contreras picks off Soto at first in the 8th

How do they make the decision on the play?

"That kind of play is more eye contact and finding the right spot to pick off," Contreras said. "A lot of times you throw to the bases just to keep the runner honest so they don't take big leads. But when you have first and second, you see the person running giving his back to the first-base coach, there's no way that he can get back to first."

• On Sunday night, Cole Hamels will make his Wrigley Field debut as a member of the Cubs opposite the Nationals' Max Scherzer in a marquee matchup. Maddon is hoping Hamels gets the same feel for his changeup that he had in his Cubs debut on Aug. 1 against the Pirates, when he struck out nine, including six on changeups.

"I love when he uses his changeup," Maddon said of Hamels. "I think it's an outstanding pitch. That pitch is devastating."

Video: CHC@PIT: Hamels K's 9, records base hit in Cubs debut

• Maddon was ejected for the second time this season on Friday while arguing an interference call made on Contreras as he was running to first base. He doesn't hold any grudges.

"Unless it's brought up, I forget about it quickly," Maddon said. "I've had my dust ups and we kind of giggle about it at another time."

Said Contreras: "Joe always has our backs. Joe knows that they made the wrong call in that situation. If the throw came from the catcher, I can understand it. [But] it came from third base and I don't think that was a good call."

Video: WSH@CHC: Maddon gets ejected for arguing in the 7th

• On Friday night, Maddon and artist Jason Skeldon raised $30,000 for Respect 90 Foundation by selling some of Skeldon's baseball-themed artwork.

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