WASHINGTON – On a surreal day that already saw the Cubs dump veteran catcher Miguel Montero and visit Donald Trump’s White House, Kris Bryant hobbled off the field on Wednesday night with his arms wrapped around the shoulders of two athletic trainers.
At a time when the season already felt like it could be teetering on the brink of a collapse, the Cubs watched Bryant track a Matt Wieters pop-up in the fifth inning and twist his right ankle as he caught the ball and awkwardly stepped on third base at Nationals Park.
The X-rays came back negative for the National League’s reigning MVP, the Cubs describing it as a mild-to-moderate sprain after an 8-4 loss dropped them back to the .500 mark almost halfway through the season. It’s unclear whether or not this will land Bryant on the disabled list.
“I grew up in the minor leagues, man,” manager Joe Maddon said. “Things happen and you have to fix them when things happen. You don’t cry. Of course, suboptimal, no question. But when you come up – A-ball manager, Double-A manager – stuff happens and you got to react.
“You can’t worry about it. You can’t cry about it. We got a game to win tomorrow. He will not be starting, obviously, so we’ll try to figure it out in another way.”
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Bryant is an All-Star third baseman with 16 home runs this year but he fills so many holes – all over the outfield and as a backup first baseman and an excellent baserunner – for a team that already has World Series MVP Ben Zobrist, Gold Glove outfielder Jason Heyward and Cy Young Award finalist Kyle Hendricks on the disabled list.
Zobrist (left wrist inflammation) will be with Double-A Tennessee on Thursday to begin his rehab assignment. The Cubs could mix and match with Javier Baez, Tommy La Stella and Jeimer Candelario. But there is no replacing such a unique talent like Bryant in the lineup and all over the field.
“It’s unfortunate,” Maddon said. “Hopefully, it’s just going to be a couple days. The way I look at it is get him off his feet literally for a couple days. And I still believe it’s going to benefit us in August and September. So whatever, let’s just keep moving it forward. Hopefully, it’s not too bad.”