The day after Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant was forced from the game because of an oblique injury, the evaluation Tuesday appeared to offer “good news” that it’s a short-term injury. And manager David Ross sounded hopeful Bryant could return to action by the end of this final week of the season.
“The trainers are optimistic. He’s optimistic,” Ross said. “The oblique area is a real unique injury, having had it. You’re only going to feel it under real strenuous activity. You have to be cautious with this thing. It was definitely tight [Monday] night, but felt better [Tuesday], in his words. To me that’s a good sign.”
Bryant, who had not had an MRI by late Tuesday afternoon, felt the initial tightness on checked swings during his first at-bat Monday, Ross said.
He was unavailable even off the bench Tuesday. Whether he’ll be available during any of the remaining five regular-season games after that is a matter of day-to-day evaluation of the often tricky injury, Ross said.
Bryant, who has struggled all season at the plate even between injuries, wants to return in time to get at-bats before the playoffs, Ross said.
“It’s a balance between protecting him and making sure it doesn’t get worse, which is the No. 1 priority,” Ross said, “but I know he wants to be in there and continue to find his rhythm at the plate.”
David Bote, who has played well in spot starts and extended fill-in duty this season, is the third baseman in Bryant’s absence, with the caveat that he’s playing through his own nagging issues right now and will need maintenance time off, Ross said.
That could mean time at third for rookie Nico Hoerner if Bryant’s injury lingers.