Cubs

Cubs waiting for Kris Bryant – their ‘Swiss Army’ knife – to feel better

Cubs waiting for Kris Bryant – their ‘Swiss Army’ knife – to feel better

ST. LOUIS – Kris Bryant makes Joe Maddon’s job so much easier and helps the rest of the Cubs look good. It goes far beyond being a 30-homer, 100-RBI force and a smiling face of the franchise.

This is an All-Star third baseman who moves to second base on defensive shifts, plays all over the outfield and subs in as the backup first baseman. Even at 6-foot-5, Bryant is still athletic enough to play shortstop for a few innings when needed.

That combination turned Bryant into the National League’s 2015 Rookie of the Year and reigning MVP and gives the Cubs so many in-game options and insurance policies for the roster.

The Cubs will feel it when Bryant stands in Busch Stadium’s visiting dugout and admits a stomach illness has gotten worse, like he did on Friday night, forcing Maddon to scribble changes onto the lineup card.

“The ‘Swiss Bryant Knife’ is just unavailable,” Maddon said before Saturday’s 5-3 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. “He is that good.”

This comes at a time when Bryant is hitting .299 and leading the team in homers (seven) and OPS (.949) and the Cubs are banged up and struggling to gain traction above .500. But not even Bryant’s versatility could cover all these issues: Addison Russell’s sore shoulder, Ben Zobrist’s stiff back, Jon Jay’s back spasms and Jason Heyward on the disabled list.

Bryant doesn’t have a snarling personality and rarely shows his emotions on or off the field. But there’s an overlooked or underrated toughness to his game. This is someone who played in: 151 out of 154 possible games after his service-time wait at Triple-A Iowa in April 2015; 155 games last season; and six postseason rounds before his 25th birthday.

“You could see something kicking his butt,” Maddon said. “I don’t know exactly virus-wise, whatever it is, but he was hurting. Even just to eat – holding food down was not comfortable. The best I think we can hope for (on Sunday) is coming off the bench.”

Reds pitcher Amir Garrett apparently held a grudge against Javy Baez for a year

Reds pitcher Amir Garrett apparently held a grudge against Javy Baez for a year

Baseball players don't forget grudges. Javy Baez and Reds pitcher Amir Garrett gave an example of that on Saturday.

Garrett struck out Baez in the seventh inning of the first game of the Cubs-Reds doubleheader. Garrett showed some excitement with the strikeout and then said something to Baez. They both started jawing at each other and suddenly the benches cleared.

At first glance, it looked like Garrett was a bit too excited to get a strikeout with no one on base. Turns out Baez had his own bit of swag for Garrett last year (Friday was the one-year anniversary) in the form of a grand slam at Wrigley Field.

This time Garrett got Baez and wanted to even things up a bit.

Things didn't get too feisty despite the benches clearing, but Anthony Rizzo did rush to Baez's side at some speed. This could be a matchup to keep an eye out for in the future.

Cubs Talk Podcast: The greatest Cubs moments at Great American Ballpark

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: The greatest Cubs moments at Great American Ballpark

Siera Santos, Kelly Crull, and David DeJesus go into the audio archives to break down the biggest games for the Cubs in Cincinnati.

David DeJesus gives us his top 3 ballgames with such gems as The Schwarber Game, The Kris Bryant Game, Starlin Castro’s debut, and Jake Arrieta’s second no hitter.

Listen to the full Cubs Talk Podcast right here: