Asked point-blank if Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant’s absences from the lineup Thursday were trade-deadline related, Cubs manager David Ross said: “They’re not.”
Even in an afternoon game Thursday, following a night game the day before, Friday’s deadline necessitated the clarification. Plenty of Cubs players’ names have been involved in trade speculation in recent weeks. But Rizzo and Bryant have been some of the more popular Cubs on the rumor mill.
“Nobody's been traded yet,” Ross said of the Cubs championship core before the series finale against the Reds. “Let's just keep our heads about us and get ready to win a ballgame.”
Ross’ comments, of course, don’t mean that no one will be traded Thursday or Friday. The Cubs have already dealt outfielder Joc Pederson to Atlanta and setup man Andrew Chafin to Oakland, both for prospects. The club is expected to make more moves before the 3 p.m. CT deadline Friday.
Ross gave other reasons for resting Rizzo and Bryant on Thursday. Both will be available off the bench, according to Ross.
“I had this one here marked for Rizz for a while now,” Ross said. “It'd be his first off day after the All-Star break.”
As for Bryant, Ross said he’d considered giving him the day off Wednesday. But Bryant hit a home run in the Cubs’ 7-4 loss to the Reds on Tuesday and said he felt good.
“Looking at the length of the game last night,” Ross said Thursday, “KB all over the place, and the issues he's had with his legs, it just made some sense to me.”
Bryant missed time last week for what the Cubs called “hamstring fatigue” and Ross characterized as “heavy legs.” Then in the Cubs’ 8-2 loss Wednesday, Bryant moved from left field to shortstop when Nico Hoerner exited the game with a right oblique strain.
The Cubs placed Hoerner on the 10-day injured list Thursday, but shortstop Javy Báez (bruised left heel) returned to the lineup.
“They'll get a nice round of applause, I'm sure, if they get in there to pinch hit,” Ross said of Rizzo and Bryant.
Ross, asked if he wants to make sure Bryant and Rizzo make appearances in Thursday’s game in case it’s their last as Cubs at Wrigley Field, said those considerations aren’t factoring into his decisions.
“I literally don't come in to work on a daily basis thinking about who is going to be traded or who's not,” Ross said. “I try to still take care of my players, do the best job we can to win each and every game. That's my job. My job is not to speculate what might or might not happen.”