After Kris Bryant completed a brief tee session this past Wednesday, Joe Maddon told the media that his superstar slugger looked good and was “close” to beginning a rehab assignment. The manager leaves most of the hands-on work to hitting coaches Chili Davis and Andy Haines, but he’s got his finger on the pulse of the mental side of the game.
“He walked out of there smiling,” Maddon said of Bryant’s 10-minute session.
He did some light work Thursday and is scheduled for “a heavy day of BP” prior to Friday’s game, per Bruce Levine. One assumes the Cubs will want to maintain that sort of light/heavy split for a while moving forward and they’ll likely want to see how the shoulder reacts to this next round of work before determining the next move.
Light day for Kris Bryant . He will have a heavy day of BP on Friday
— Bruce Levine (@MLBBruceLevine) August 23, 2018
While the Cubs are not trying to tweak the mechanics of Bryant’s long, powerful swing, they are taking steps to mitigate stress on his shoulder during practice. But no amount of work in the cage can truly simulate live pitching in a competitive setting, so Bryant will need some minor league tune-ups to get ready for the September stretch run.
The Iowa Cubs are away through Monday but they return home to finish the season with five games in four days starting Tuesday. The Tennessee Smokies, with whom Bryant homered during his first rehab stint earlier this year, aren’t home until next Thursday and the South Bend Cubs are home now through the end of the season.
South Bend would require less travel and has played frequent host to rehabbing big leaguers over the last few years, so that makes a lot of sense as a destination. At the same time, Iowa would feature a higher level of competition. My money is on South Bend at this point, only because Bryant could join them right away. Or maybe he bounces from one to the other as the SB Cubs have Tuesday off.
Provided all goes well with the rehab, Bryant will likely rejoin the Cubs by the end of the month and then be activated when rosters expand in September. That would put him in line to start in Philly a little over a week from now. As for what the Cubs are going to get when that happens, Maddon seemed pretty confident.
“You’ll see the same guy when he comes back.”