Cubs activate Kris Bryant from DL after shoulder issue
Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant looked bad striking out in the first inning Wednesday against the San Francisco Giants, but he hit a towering homer in the fifth in his first game after coming off the disabled list.
The Cubs activated Bryant earlier in the day and plugged him into the No. 3 spot in the lineup and played him at third base.
The slugger had been on the disabled list since June 26 because of left shoulder inflammation.
With a man on in the fifth and the Cubs trailing the Giants 4-1, Bryant hit a high fastball over the center-field wall for his 10th home run of the season.
He finished the day 1-for-5 with two walks and two strikeouts as Chicago dropped the rubber game of the series 5-4 in 13 innings.
Before the game, infielder David Bote was optioned to Triple-A Iowa to make room for Bryant.
Bryant completed a two-game rehab assignment with Double-A Tennessee on Tuesday before flying to San Francisco to join the Cubs.
"I think the mission was accomplished down there," Bryant said. "I feel pretty good."
He added: "I'm sure there will be days in the future when it feels sore, but right now it feels pretty good."
When the shoulder became an issue, Bryant said extra time in the batting cage caused the soreness, but when he went on the DL he said he originally hurt it about a month before on a slide.
Bryant has been solid this season, but the former MVP struggled in June. He entered Wednesday's game batting .280 with nine homers and 36 RBIs.
The Cubs had just lost their fifth in a row when Bryant went on the DL, but they have turned it around since then with a 10-4 record.
Bryant will be a big boost as teams wonder what they need before the trade deadline.
"I don't know if all the discomfort is gone entirely," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of Bryant. "It may be something he has to play with. We'll find out as we move forward."
Maddon said he "may have to be more proactive in giving him a day off," something he has been doing more with Anthony Rizzo.
"I don't know the answers but I'm prepared if we have to," Maddon said.
Chicago Cubs Rumors: Is outfielder Derek Dietrich a good fit for this team?
It’s that time of year, baseball fans: rumor season. In recent years, this brought big-time deals for the Chicago Cubs. First, the acquisition of Aroldis Chapman that culminated in a World Series title. Last year, Jose Quintana and Justin Wilson joined the club as the Cubs sought another title.
This month, teams have one last chance to improve their roster via trade before the stretch run (and the August 31 waiver trade deadline).
Of course, rumors of potential Cubs’ trade targets started early this season with Baltimore Orioles superstar Manny Machado. Things will ramp up the closer we get to July 31; MLB Network Insider Jon Heyman had news Tuesday, though.
The Cubs need another outfielder?
Derek Dietrich is a 28-year-old outfielder with the Miami Marlins. While he is a .257 career hitter, he is hitting .287 as of Tuesday, which would be a career high. He also has 11 home runs (13 is his career-high) and holds a respectable .804 OPS.
Dietrich’s numbers speak for themselves, but his defensive versatility also must be noted. He has played 74 games in left field this season in addition to nine games at first base.
Dietrich has also played third base (143 games) and second base (190 games) in his career. Such versatility should not be discounted, especially for a team full of versatile players like the Cubs.
Does Dietrich fit with the Cubs, though? It’s a good question, but a better question is do the Cubs even need position player help. The team has scored 447 runs this season, most in the National League and fourth best in the MLB.
Chicago Cubs: Addison Russell proving himself to the front office
Since June 1, Chicago Cubs shortstop Addison Russell carries a .305/.368/.457 line with a wRC+ of 122. In that total of 31 games, he’s hitting the baseball hard more often with a 27.9 percent hard contact rate and 55.8 medium contact rate and soft contact rate below 20 percent. He’s got a 17.1 percent strikeout rate over this stretch, too.
For the season, his OPS sits at a career high of .755. To compare that to his All-Star season, Russell finished 2016 with a .738 OPS.
This is a big season for the young infielder after a down 2017 campaign that saw a dip in power and various injuries that kept him out for extensive time. He’s already played in 80 games this season after only 110 last season total. He played in 152 games in 2016.
Some other comparisons to the 2017 season include his 2.4 WAR. He already has a 2.6 WAR in 2018. He walked a total of 29 times in 2017 but already has 29 walks this season.
Turning things around
He came into the season as a guy the Cubs didn’t necessarily need, and after a down 2017 season, some thought moving Javier Baez to shortstop might be the better move for the team.
When Baez plays shortstop, that opens up a spot for Ben Zobrist. Of, course he mainly plays a combination of corner outfield or second base.
Offensively, his April was atrocious, as was most of the Cubs offense. However, over the last two months he’s seemed to return to form of a defensive specialist with a high upside bat.