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Bryant (ill) unavailable, following protocols

@MLBastian
August 2, 2020

CHICAGO -- It was only a few days ago when Cubs star Kris Bryant expressed thanks to Cincinnati's Mike Moustakas for self-reporting feeling ill and entering baseball's COVID-19 protocol before being cleared to rejoin his team. Now, Bryant has practiced what he preached. On Sunday, Bryant was out of Chicago's

CHICAGO -- It was only a few days ago when Cubs star Kris Bryant expressed thanks to Cincinnati's Mike Moustakas for self-reporting feeling ill and entering baseball's COVID-19 protocol before being cleared to rejoin his team. Now, Bryant has practiced what he preached.

On Sunday, Bryant was out of Chicago's lineup for a second straight game due to stomach issues, which he reported to the team prior to Saturday's game against the Pirates. The third baseman has already had multiple COVID-19 tests come back negative, but he remains in MLB's protocol.

"It's kind of out of our hands right now," Cubs manager David Ross said. "Just following the protocols through MLB. He really needs to be commended for going in and getting checked out. With all we've got going on, we're trying to take the right precautions just to keep everybody safe.

"But Kris feels much better today. Stomach issues are gone and the tests are back negative."

Ross was not sure whether Bryant would be cleared by MLB to rejoin the Cubs as early as Monday or Tuesday. That said, the manager detailed that Bryant's COVID-19 tests from Friday and Sunday each came back negative, noting that the third baseman would undergo testing again on Monday.

On Wednesday in Cincinnati, Moustakas returned to the Reds lineup after reporting feeling ill on July 26. In a Zoom discussion with reporters after that game, Bryant said he was glad Moustakas took that approach to the situation, even if it meant missing a few games.

"We haven't been in this situation ever before as baseball players," Bryant said. "It's like, you say you have the sniffles and it's like you're just looked down upon and you're judged and stuff like that. I told Moustakas out there, I know he was caught up in the protocols and I thanked him, because that's how we're going to finish the season.

"If you wake up and you don't feel great or whatever -- anything -- you have to check that box of the survey that we fill out every morning, and you go from there. Yeah, I respect everybody who says that they have something. I completely respect them, because they're going to be the ones who are helping us finish the season."

Bryant then found himself in a similar situation.

"Kris did the right thing," Ross said.

Steele joins Cubs' bullpen
Prior to Sunday's game, the Cubs recalled lefty Justin Steele from the South Bend (Ind.) alternate training site. Steele took the spot vacated by righty James Norwood, who was placed on the 10-day injured list (retroactive to Thursday) with right shoulder inflammation.

"He made an impression on me in Spring Training," Ross said of Steele, "just with the swings that hitters took off him. When he's in the zone, the ball seems to jump out of his hand. Hitters don't seem to pick it up too much."

The 25-year-old Steele is ranked 21st on the Cubs' Top 30 Prospects list by MLB Pipeline. He has dealt with injury woes in the past few seasons, but he has a 3.62 ERA in 320 2/3 innings through Chicago's farm system. Ross said the reports from South Bend were that the lefty was making great progress, especially with his slider.

"His name kept popping up of a guy that's trending in the right direction," Ross said. "He's competing his tail off in that environment. We try to reward guys for that around here. We'll give him his first shot at big league baseball and see how it goes."

Worth noting
• Ross noted that Norwood's shoulder began to feel "cranky" during his outing on Wednesday in Cincinnati. The manager said the Cubs planned on having Norwood face more batters that night, but they pulled the plug after three pitches. The righty threw a 12-pitch bullpen session on Saturday and felt improved.

"We just want to be cautious with a big arm like that," Ross said, "and make sure we're not continuing to put him in a situation where he could hurt himself. Let him get back to 100 percent healthy and get back and help us."

• The addition of Steele gives the Cubs three lefties (Rex Brothers and Kyle Ryan being the others) in the bullpen. Entering Sunday, Chicago's lefty relievers had combined to allow a .310/.394/.828 slash line in 7 1/3 innings.

• Ross said he received "all good feedback" on Sunday, following lefty José Quintana's 38-pitch bullpen session on Saturday. Quintana is on the 10-day IL due to a left thumb injury.

Quotable
"The great thing is I've got a lot of good players, which help me look a lot smarter right now than I probably am. And it's a credit to them. I don't ever want to take credit for anything they're doing. You put these guys in the lineup and they've bought in to a team mentality." -- Ross

Jordan Bastian covers the Cubs for MLB.com. He previously covered the Indians from 2011-18 and the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian.