Cubs

Joe Maddon expects Kris Bryant to be fine following scary outfield collision

Joe Maddon expects Kris Bryant to be fine following scary outfield collision

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.”

[SHOP: Gear up, Cubs fans!]

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.”

[MORE CUBS: No return date for Dexter Fowler, but Cubs can't wait to get him back]

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.”

Forget 2015, the Brewers are more like 2016 Cubs

Forget 2015, the Brewers are more like 2016 Cubs

With the Milwaukee Brewers about to kick off the NLCS, many Cubs fans and pundits have taken to comparing them to the 2015 Cubs.

At first glance, it's easy to see why — they're in the playoffs for the first time as something of an underdog and "surprise" team — but that's not the recent Cubs squad we should be comparing the 2018 Brewers to.

This Milwaukee team is a lot more like the 2016 Cubs.

Here's why:

1. They're not a surprise.

Nobody expected the 2015 Cubs to win 97 games and wind up in the NLCS. They were expected to compete very soon, but everything went right in a red-hot August, they rode Jake Arrieta's right arm to the NLDS and then toppled the Cardinals to get to the LCS, where they ran into the brick wall that was Matt Harvey and and the Mets pitching staff.

The 2018 Brewers are not — and should not be — a surprise. Anybody who was caught off guard by this team being so good hasn't been paying much attention. The Brewers were leading the NL Central in 2017 for much of the year before a late-season fade that coincided with the Cubs' late-season surge.

This Milwaukee squad was always supposed to be one of the top teams in the NL in 2018 and they really hit their groove in September to chase down the Cubs. Still, it took a Game 163 to force a changing of the guard atop the division.

2. They greatly improved expectations with a big free-agent OF signing over the winter.

The Cubs had Jason Heyward in between 2015 and '16. The Brewers had Lorenzo Cain.

Cain has provided quite a bit more offense in the first season of his 5-year, $80 million contract but both Cain and Heyward provided leadership in the clubhouse and elite defense in the outfield in the first years with their new teams.

3. The Brewers have the NL MVP.

This one's an easy comparison to make, though Cubs fans will hate it.

Christian Yelich is this season's NL MVP. Sorry, Javy Baez fans. "El Mago" had a great season, but it's impossible to give the award to anybody but Yelich.

Yelich winning the league's most coveted accolade would be another perfect tie-in to the 2016 Cubs, who had Kris Bryant take home NL MVP.

4. They have a dominant LHP out of the bullpen.

Josh Hader has been doing his best Aroldis Chapman impression in 2018 as an absolutely dominant southpaw out of the bullpen. Unlike Chapman, Hader's spent all season with the Brewers, but like Chapman in '16, Hader will be leaned on heavily for multiple innings throughout the rest of the playoffs.

5. They picked up some valuable in-season assets.

The 2016 Cubs dealt for Chapman, but they also traded for reliever Joe Smith and called up Willson Contreras in the middle of the year, who provided a spark for the offense.

The 2018 Brewers have acquired plenty of valuable assets along the way this season from Mike Moustakas to Jonathan Schoop to Erik Kratz (more on him later) to Gio Gonzalez. But one of their most important additions (especially in October) was the promotion of top prospect Corbin Burnes, a flame-throwing right-hander who posted a 2.61 ERA in 30 regular-season games and allowed only 1 hit in 4 shutout innings in the DS.

6. They're on a mission with a chip on their shoulder.

The 2015 Cubs had a little bit of a chip on their shoulder as they attempted to take down the divisional powerhouse that was the St. Louis Cardinals. But again, they were a surprise contender - even within that clubhouse (especially early in 2015). But after falling short in the NLCS, the Cubs retooled over the winter and came back with one goal in mind - to win the World Series.

It was a goal they accomplished. We'll see if the Brewers will be able to do the same, but they certainly came to play in 2018 with a chip on their shoulder and the ultimate goal of winning the final MLB game of the year.

The Brewers didn't lead the division from Day 1 and weren't able to coast into October, but they still wound up with homefield advantage throughout the NL playoffs.

7. They have journeyman catcher who is winning over fans' hearts.

This is a fun one.

The 2016 Cubs had David "Grandpa" Rossy who still elicts deafening cheers whenever he's shown on the giant video board at Wrigley Field. The 2018 Brewers have Kratz, who has become a fan favorite recently and was mic'd up for the final out of the NLDS.

Ross was 39 when he helped lead the Cubs to the 2016 World Series and Chicago was his eighth stop (seventh different team) along his MLB journey. Kratz is 38 and on his ninth stop (seventh different team) along his MLB journey.

In fact, Ross and Kratz are so intertwined, they've already been compared to each other by MLB.com.

But the major difference is Kratz has zero postseason playing experience until a week ago. Will he be able to ride off into the sunset with a championship ring on his finger the way Ross did?

We'll have an answer to that over the next few weeks in the final chapter of the Brewers' 2018 season, though Cubs fans surely wouldn't be too happy to see their division rivals celebrating with a World Series parade just 90 minutes north of Wrigley Field.

Cubs bench coach Brandon Hyde interviewed for Rangers' manager opening

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USA TODAY

Cubs bench coach Brandon Hyde interviewed for Rangers' manager opening

The Cubs just lost one coach with hitting coach Chili Davis getting fired. Another opening on Joe Maddon's coaching staff could also open up.

According to report from MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan, bench coach Brandon Hyde interviewed with the Rangers on Thursday.

Rangers farm director Jayce Tingler was the first candidate the club interviewed, but Hyde and Astros bench coach Joe Espada were also interviewed.

The 45-year-old Hyde has been with the Cubs since 2014. He was a bench coach in 2014 under Rick Renteria before moving to first base coach from 2015-17. This past season he moved back to his original role as bench coach.

He played four seasons in the minors for the White Sox.

The Rangers job opened up when Jeff Banister was fired on Sept. 21. Banister won AL Manager of the Year in 2015 and guided the Rangers to back-to-back playoff appearances in 2015 and 2016, but couldn't get out of the ALDS either year. A 78-84 season in 2017 was followed by an even worse 2018, which led to his firing late this season.