Exhale, Cubs Nation. Kris Bryant is going to be OK.
There was plenty of reason to worry when the National League’s home run leader collided with center fielder Albert Almora Jr. in left-center field during the fifth inning of Monday’s 10-4 win over the Cincinnati Reds. Bryant got up from that collision and remained in the game only briefly before exiting for a pinch hitter in the bottom of the inning, the Cubs announcing he had a “contusion on the lower portion of his left leg.”
It looked like a replay of the collision in early April in Arizona, when Kyle Schwarber and Dexter Fowler ran into each other in left-center, leading to Schwarber getting carted off the field with a season-ending injury.
Bryant didn’t suffer the same fate, with manager Joe Maddon saying Bryant should be fine come Tuesday.
“He should be fine tomorrow,” Maddon said. “I’m anticipating putting his name in the lineup tomorrow.”
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Maddon added that had the score been less one-sided, Bryant wouldn’t have exited Monday's game at all.
Bryant wasn’t around after the win to discuss the collision, but Almora faced the cameras, seeming both shaken and relieved at what happened to a guy he called his brother.
“We’re both trying to catch that ball,” Almora said. “As a center fielder, I feel like if it drops it’s on me. It’s a baseball play, it really is. We’re both trying to win. He was obviously right there under it, and I didn’t hear him. I should’ve probably looked. In that situation, we were winning the game, and that drop in could change the momentum and I just didn’t want it to happen.
“It was really unfortunate. Obviously I didn’t want to hurt my brother. He’s going to be one of my witnesses at my wedding in a couple weeks. I came in after the game, and I tried to find him. He’s doing all right. I gave like 15,000 hugs I think, and I apologized every time. He’s good, thank god.”
Bryant added to his terrific first half of the season before he left Monday, clubbing his 24th home run of the year, a two-run shot, and scoring all three times he reached base. Had the Cubs lost him for any significant amount of time, it would’ve been a big problem, their hottest hitter joining Fowler on the disabled list.
Fortunately that didn’t happen, and Bryant should be ready to go not just for next week’s All-Star Game — in which he’s expected to be voted in as the National League’s starting third baseman — but for the remainder of this week’s games, as well.
But trust the look on Maddon’s face when the skipper said he doesn’t want anything like that to happen again in 2016.
“He did call it — inaudibly,” Maddon said of Bryant. “They couldn’t hear each other in the white noise of Wrigley Field.
“Albert’s just an aggressive center fielder, that’s why he’s so darn good. That’s just something to be talked about. You can’t just go out there and keep hitting fly balls. They know, they’ve got it. We just have to be more loud when you make that call.
“Sometimes they yell at the same time, and that’s the scariest part. Sometimes you’ve got to peek. And you have to have a lot of confidence in your abilities, but there should be a little bit of a peek involved, especially when you’re going like that. Center fielder always has the priority, don’t get me wrong, but when it’s that high and somebody’s camped (out under the ball), that’s another situation.
"It happens to every team throughout the course of the season, but for purposes I would like it not to happen again.”