PITTSBURGH — The Cubs followed concussion protocol and cleared Kris Bryant — one of the franchise’s most valuable long-term assets — to play in Monday night’s showdown with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Bryant was back in the lineup, batting third and playing third base at PNC Park, saying he felt fine but still sounding a little shaken up from the headfirst slide that forced him to leave Sunday’s 4-3 win over the Milwaukee Brewers as a precaution.
“I only have one head,” Bryant said, and a few reporters at his locker chuckled, thinking he was kidding around. “I only have one life. So there’s nothing really to joke about with that. We’re taking it real serious.”
To the point where Bryant will have to reconsider sliding headfirst ever again.
“Absolutely,” Bryant said. “That is the first thing I thought after (the play). One of my buddies from Arizona State — he slid headfirst and he’s paralyzed now.”
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Bryant had played in travel tournaments with Cory Hahn, who now works in the Arizona Diamondbacks’ scouting department after suffering that devastating injury three games into his freshman season with the Sun Devils in 2011.
Bryant said he never experienced anything like this before, not so much dizziness, but just a weak overall feeling from Jean Segura’s hard tag and the collision at second base. Bryant — an aggressive base runner with surprisingly good speed for a 6-foot-5 slugger — stretched an RBI single in the fifth inning at Miller Park.
“It’s just instinct,” Bryant said. “It’s hard to think when you’re running full speed. I think that’s the hardest I’ve run all year, and I run pretty hard every time.
“Looking back on it, yeah, sliding feet-first is the more safe way to go.”
Bryant is 23 years old, already an All-Star and an extremely marketable player as a rookie. He should have a long, productive career in front of him.
“I feel like you’re kind of more elusive when you slide headfirst,” Bryant said. “But I think there’s more important things than being safe. My safety is more important. It definitely makes you rethink some things.”