Cubs notebook: Injury updates on Kris Bryant and Javy Báez
As the Cubs aimed to stop their current losing skid Tuesday night in Atlanta, they had to do so without two of their most important players in Javy Báez and Kris Bryant.
The end result was a fourth straight loss as the Cubs offense had 2 hits in the 5-0 defeat to the Braves.
They evaluated him prior to Tuesday’s game with some drills and footwork and he came away with no pain, only tightness in the hamstring. They will make a final determination Wednesday but an IL stint is still possible.
“If he can’t go or we think that is something that is gonna take multiple days, then yeah, it makes sense to put him on the injured list,” David Ross said.
Báez initially hurt his hamstring late in Sunday’s loss at Wrigley Field but stayed in that game. He missed Monday’s contest in Atlanta.
Nico Hoerner has seen time at shortstop in Báez’s absence.
“It’s tough to play with too short of a bench,” Ross said. “We want Javy to be healthy and we are still really early in the season, so pushing him too hard doesn’t make a lot of sense. But if he feels good and he bounces back and all the tests show [positive], we’ll push forward.
“I don’t want to be too cautious. If he feels like he’s ready, we’ll go forward. We’ll let the trainers do their job and I’ll rely on our medical staff. They put a lot of work in and are way more qualified to make those decisions than I am.”
Bryant — who hit a grand slam in Monday’s loss — was also out of the lineup for Tuesday’s game and has been dealing with an issue with his right bicep muscle. He initially felt it on a throw during a cold game at Wrigley last week.
“He’s been getting treatment, trying to play through it,” Ross said. “It’s just starting to bark a little bit. I’m gonna try to rest him. He’s available off the bench to hit, but I’m gonna try to stay away from him and see if we can calm that bicep down a little bit and see how it presents tomorrow.”
Bryant was in the on-deck circle for a potential pinch-hit appearance in the 8th inning Tuesday night but Ian Happ struck out to end the frame and backup catcher Tony Wolters pinch-hit in the 9th inning instead.
Duffy stepping up
With Bryant and Báez out, Matt Duffy was inserted into the starting lineup Tuesday night. The veteran played third base and hitting 5th.
Duffy has been big for the Cubs over the last week with 6 hits, 2 walks and 3 RBI while making a few spot starts and coming off the bench. He was a part of a double switch Monday night and walked, singled, stole a base and scored a run late in the game.
The 30-year-old is now hitting .241 with a .353 on-base percentage in 18 games in his first season in Chicago.
“What has impressed me about Matt Duffy is his professionalism,” Ross said. “His ability to embrace a role and stay ready, his work ethic, his baseball IQ, his approach, his contact ability — the ability to stay ready with timing when he doesn’t get those starts and still be ready to do one of the harder things in baseball to pinch-hit and be successful at it.
“He’s done a really good job at that. All the way around, a very impressive young man and happy he’s on our team.”
The new Molinas?
The Contreras brothers are attempting to follow in the footsteps of the Molinas (Yadier, José and Bengie) as baseball’s premier catching family.
Willson Contreras is already one of the game’s best backstops and his brother, William, is a top prospect with the Braves. Atlanta called him up to the big leagues Sunday for the doubleheader but he did not appear in either game and was sent back to the alternate site.
William, 23, saw time in 4 big-league games last year for the Braves, going 4-for-10.
“My brother is good,” Willson Contreras said. “From what I’m seeing, he’s really good; he’s really talented. He’s willing to listen. And I know that he’s desperate to play in the big leagues but we have been talking a lot about the process. I know it’s a slow process sometimes.
“It can take a few months but I taught him to stay focused, to keep working and learn about his pitchers – what they want to do, what they need to do. About what the team is willing to do. And he’s been all over that. He’s just a great guy. Willing to listen, he’s willing to learn. And he’s a gamer. I think he’s gonna be a really good catcher in the big leagues.”