An upset stomach took Bryant out of the lineup in the Cubs’ Saturday-night win against the Pirates. Fearing the worst, the gastrointestinal issues prompted a rapid-fast COVID-19 and a diagnostic test, both of which came back negative. He’s back in the lineup tonight against the Kansas City Royals, batting leadoff and playing left field.
“Considering what is going on around the league, Bryant said. “And how serious this thing escalates, our team doctor thought it was appropriate to be cautious with it. And that’s what it was.”
Bryant’s been off to a slow start through the six games he’s played so far, slashing .120/.241./.160, but at some point, a player of his caliber can expect that to turn around. His return, of course, comes at a pivotal moment in this MLB season. Already, there have been two outbreaks, with 18 players on the Miami Marlins testing positive and 13 positive cases on the St. Louis Cardinals. A bubble scenario, as seen in the NBA and NHL, was proposed, but was decided against. The gamble was that players would police themselves and avoid high possibilities of exposure. So far, that gamble hasn’t paid off, yet the Cubs remain a team that hasn’t had a positive test since the season started.
“The main thing with this group is they’re just accountable to one another,” manager David Ross said.
Additionally, there is the inherent problem of asking someone to take a day off or to immediately pull themselves out of the locker room if they feel any symptoms. The competitor in them wants to play, but, as Bryant alluded to, sometimes it’s what you have to do.
“It’s important to maybe change up your routine here and there, for the good of the whole group,” Bryant said. “So, if someone does feel anything, anything at all, it’s important to say something. It just really is.”
But for now, the show goes on. The Cubs are off to a great start at 7-2, finally benefitting from an effort by their bullpen Sunday night in completing the sweep of the Pirates in extra-innings. And while the bullpen as a hole is still a problem, one game notwithstanding, they’ve found success with a couple arms like Jeremy Jeffress and Rowan Wick. Additionally, their starters’ ERA of 4.19 has been solid and the offense has produced the 10th most runs scored in baseball.,
Now, with Bryant, the Cubs offense may get even a little more firepower; in the two games he missed, the Cubs scored four runs and two runs. He plays in left tonight, leaving David Bote, who has made good cotact so far this year with a .389 ISO, at third base. Schwarber, who normally plays left field, will DH for only the second time this season.
The Cubs are 7-2 at the moment and have played like the team we’ve known they’re capable of. While the bullpen remains a looming question mark that could very well be the non-COVID downfall of their season, they’ve looked sharp at the plate and from their starters. Adding Bryant back into the mix will give them just a little bit more firepower than they had against Pittsburgh.