Bryant Scheduled for MRI, No Timeline for Return from Second DL Stint

In a move that felt inevitable after he was kept out of the lineup for a second straight day Wednesday, the Cubs placed Kris Bryant on the 10-day DL for the second time with a sore right shoulder. Bryant missed nearly three weeks with the bum wing before returning on July 11, but it had been nagging him for about about a month before that first DL stint became necessary.

The move is retroactive to Tuesday, which means Bryant would be eligible to return on Friday, August 3, but it doesn’t sound like the Cubs are too optimistic about such a quick stint. He’s scheduled to have an MRI to determine whether (or how much) there’s any structural damage, so there won’t be a timeline for his activation until those results come back. And maybe not even then, since there’s still the matter of managing the pain.

Joe Maddon said prior to Thursday’s game that Bryant had altered his swing to mitigate the pain in his shoulder, which is not good for a few different reasons. The most obvious is that his swing has already produced a Rookie of the Year and MVP, so blunting its efficacy by shortening the follow-through basically means he’s just another dude. Then you’ve got the matter of weakening multiple links in the kinetic chain.

Since the body is a finely-tuned compensation machine, changes to one structure or movement can have a domino effect that puts new and different stress on other parts and movements. That can lead to other injuries in addition to the original, some of which could end up being even worse than the root cause.

Then there are the conflicting reports of whether or not Bryant received a cortisone shot in his shoulder Wednesday, which raises some pretty serious questions. While Mark Gonzales wrote that Maddon denied such a measure, Bruce Levine confirmed on Mully and Hanley Thursday morning that an injection was indeed administered.

I’m going to assume that he hasn’t had a shot, mainly because of the pending MRI. It would be incredibly reckless for the Cubs’ medical and training staff to suggest or use cortisone prior to confirming the presence and/or extent of any structural damage. Corticosteroids reduce inflammation and mask the resultant pain, which could lead to someone exacerbating an injury while remaining totally oblivious to it.

If there’s no structural damage and no potential to make things worse, fine. And if the MRI reveals as much and KB and the staff determine that’s what’s best for him to be able to play, I can’t disagree. Which is why I sincerely hope there was no shot prior to having the shoulder evaluated fully.

Regardless of what did, didn’t, has, or hasn’t happened yet, the most important thing in all of this is that Bryant gets healthy. Not so he can come back and shoulder the load for the Cubs, though I can guarantee you it’s killing him not to be able to do that, but so his life and livelihood are the best they can be now and in the future.

Ed. note: According to a source with knowledge of the situation, we can confirm that Bryant has not had a cortisone shot.

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