Chicago Cubs third baseman, Kris Bryant, is expected to begin a rehab assignment on Monday. The team has not yet announced where Bryant will begin his rehab, but the likely destination will be with the Iowa Cubs. The return of Bryant would provide a huge lift to a Cubs team that is stuck in a tight battle for the National League Central Division lead.
The 2016 National League Most Valuable Player has been on the disabled list since July 24 with left shoulder inflammation. He has struggled to keep the shoulder healthy all season but was forced to shut it down at the end of July. The Cubs believe that the reason for the inflammation is the one-handed finish that Bryant uses when he swings the bat.
PJ Mainville, the Cubs athletic trainer, convinced Bryant to change his swing to use both hands. Bryant has been using the new swing during his rehab and showed off the new swing during live batting practice on Saturday. The third baseman blasted 10 home runs during the batting practice session and afterward told the media that his new swing gives him more power. Bryant is scheduled to take live batting practice against Drew Smyly before the Cubs series finale with the Reds on Sunday. Smyly is also trying to rehab his way back the Major Leagues as a potential bullpen arm for Chicago.
Bryant, known for his extensive batting practice, will use the new swing during practice or when in the cage. The Cubs are not asking him to use the two-handed swing during a game, but Bryant has indicated that he might. Bryant will get a chance to test his new swing during live game situations this week, before hopefully rejoining the Big League team by next weekend.
Bryant has appeared in just 76 games this season for the first place Chicago Cubs. He has a .276 batting average to go along with 11 home runs and 44 runs batted in. All three numbers are well below his career average. Bryant was the 2015 National League Rookie of the Year in 2015 and also was named to the All-Star team that season. In 2016, Bryant led the Cubs to the World Series Championship and was named both an All-Star and the Most Valuable Player in the National League. The Cubs need Bryant to be healthy and playing well if they are going to make another deep postseason run this season.
Young third baseman, David Bote has been given an opportunity to play in Bryant’s absence and has made the most of it for the Cubs. The rookie is hitting .276 with five home runs and 21 runs batted in for the Cubs. Bote has shown a flair for the dramatic, delivering two walk-off home runs in a span of two weeks to lift the Cubs to victory.
The Chicago Cubs hold a four-game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Central. The Cubs are 75-53 and hold the best record in the NL entering play on Sunday. The Cubs will wrap up a four-game series against the Reds on Sunday afternoon at Wrigley Field.