If the grand slam in his early return from an oblique injury wasn’t a powerful enough response to those who would criticize Kris Bryant for this year’s struggles and injuries, the former MVP offered another when asked about those critics after the game Saturday night.
“I don’t give a sh**. I really don’t,” he said. “That’s a good answer.”
Almost as good as the single and slam in his first two at-bats since leaving Monday’s game in Pittsburgh with the left oblique tightness — which elicited the kind of response on social media and local airwaves usually reserved for malingering flops and goats.
“I feel like sometimes I go out there and I could go 4-for-4, and it’s not good enough for some people,” Bryant said, adding, with full stops between words: “So I. Don’t. Give. A. Sh**. How about that?”
Bryant, a three-time All-Star and MVP for the 2016 champions, still is hitting only .205 this season with the two-hit night in the Cubs’ 9-5 loss to the White Sox — driving in the four and scoring the fifth Cubs run.
But if this return was any indication of health and what he might feel like into October, it won’t matter on any level happened before that during an abbreviated, protocol-filled COVID-19 season that also included time lost to elbow and more significantly wrist/finger issues before that this season. He has only 127 at-bats this season.
Bryant, 28, wouldn’t get specific when asked how close to 100 percent he feels, saying only he’s well enough to compete. And on Saturday might have said about his timing: “I feel like I’ve been trying to find my timing the whole year.”
Teammates say they’ll take whatever percentage their best hitter can give them.
“Kris is going to be a huge part of what we’re doing in the postseason,” said Bryzzo co-founder Anthony Rizzo, who scoffed at critics using this season to suggest Bryant might not be an elite player anymore.
“You have someone coming off an All-Star year — pick one year, and you can argue that’s his best year,” Rizzo said. “It’s just something that when you’re a superstar in this game and your numbers aren’t elite of the elite of the elite every year, but they’re still elite, people will say things.”
That’s why Bryant said during spring training last year that he had stopped using his Twitter account. His only tweet in the last year is a pinned tweet announcing the birth of his son, Kyler, in April.
Whether Saturday’s impactful return is indeed a sign of production to come, judging any player by the small and surreal sample size of a pandemic-influenced season is an exercise in stupid — regardless of injury considerations.
“This is a former MVP, right? Like, I don’t know what to say to that,” manager David Ross, a teammate during Bryant’s first two years in the majors, said of the criticism. “This guy wants to be out there. He wants to do well for this organization. He’s done nothing but be a model citizen and be a great player since he’s been here in my opinion.”
He also might have played the best third base of his career when in the lineup this season — when not playing well in the outfield, where he injured the wrist on a diving attempt. And he’s the team’s best base runner.
But don’t expect to find a lot of that information on Twitter when searching for Bryant.
“I don’t really comment on people on Twitter,” Ross said with a laugh. “Those people are idiots.”