Kris Bryant wasn’t worried about COVID-19 when he consulted the Cubs medical staff before the Cubs’ game Saturday.
“I was looking for some relief of a symptom that I had,” Bryant said. “I didn’t even think anything twice of it. But considering what is going on around the league and how serious this thing escalates, our team doctor thought it was appropriate to just be overly cautious with it.”
Bryant returned to the Cubs lineup Monday for the team’s series opener against the Royals. He sat out for two games against the Pirates as he went through MLB’s protocols for players with possible symptoms of COVID-19. Both his regularly scheduled diagnostic tests and expedited tests were negative.
“I had no clue that this is what would happen,” Bryant said, “but I’m glad it did because if I did end up having it, that’s the way to catch it.”
Even after Saturday’s game, Cubs manager David Ross said Bryant “just had a bad stomach.” But Bryant’s absence was the latest example of the team’s commitment to following protocol.
“That’s important,” Cubs MLBPA representative Ian Happ said of reporting symptoms. “We have to applaud guys like that. We have to encourage it. You saw it with the Reds, and they did such a fantastic job -- Moose (Mike Moustakas), (Nick) Senzel, Joey Votto recently -- of reporting symptoms early, of telling guys, ‘Hey, don’t want to alarm anybody, but this is how I feel, and I’m going to stay home today.’
“And that’s the right thing to do. That’s how you keep it out of the clubhouse. And the actions of one guy don’t affect just the team, don’t affect just the city, they affect the entire league. And it’s important to remember the gravity of that.”
In the Cubs’ three-game series in Cincinnati last week, Moustakas and Senzel missed the first two games and reportedly filed an appeal to MLB’s Joint Committee to return for the third after reporting symptoms earlier in the week.
The Reds placed Votto on the injured list Sunday. Votto had self-reported COVID-19 symptoms, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer, but had not tested positive for COVID-19 as of Sunday morning.
“It’s just going to keep us on the field,” Bryant said. “With the testing and all that, it seems there is a way for the virus to get in, seeing how its spread with the Marlins and the Cardinals now. Hoping that all those guys are alright.”
The Marlins had at least 21 players and staff members test positive for COVID-19 during an outbreak last week. The Cardinals have had 13 members of the organization test positive in the last week, MLB announced Monday, including seven players.
“If we can add another part to our responsibility,” Bryant said, “in that if you do feel something, just stay away and take it as seriously as possible, that’s the only way that we’re going to get through a World Series. I just think it’s important. Put your pride and egos aside, and it could end up helping the rest of your teammates too.”
With Bryant’s tests coming back negative, the Cubs are believed to be the only team in the National League that hasn’t had a player test positive.