Cubs' Bryant given night off with elbow issue
Kris Bryant, off to a 1-for-17 start, was given the night off Tuesday in Cincinnati and manager David Ross said before the game Bryant is dealing with a minor left elbow issue.
"KB's dealing with a few little bumps and bruises," Ross said in a Zoom call with reporters. "He's got a little elbow thing. I just want to make sure we get on top of it immediately and it doesn't become a bigger issue."
Catcher Willson Contreras also got the night off, with Victor Caratini stepping in behind the plate. Ross said that was a matter of playing a long, taxing game Monday night and wanting to keep Contreras as fresh as possible.
Bryant has been in a relatively new role leading off this season, but he's opened in a slump.
"I want Kris Bryant to be the player he's always been," Ross said.
"That's why I put him in the leadoff spot. He looks like he's embracing that role. I just want him to work through that, get his timing and make sure he's healthy.
"Every year you look at the back of his baseball card and there's really good numbers there, so I trust that. You have to give trust to those guys that are battle-tested and have been through the grind. Once he gets locked in, he'll be carrying us like some of these other guys are now. On a good team, that's what happens."
Souza comeback complete:
When Steven Souza Jr. delivered a 2-run double in the first inning Monday, it was his first hit in the major leagues since Sept. 30, 2018. He missed all of last season with a major knee injury.
"It was really emotional," Souza said before Tuesday's game. "I didn't actually expect it to be. I don't know why. I've played so many games in spring training and then the summer camp. I wasn't really prepared with how I was going to react. I think it was just overwhelming being back.
"This (Cincinnati) is where I had my surgery. Then the overwhelming sense of support from my teammates, it just flooded me and it just brought me back to being thankful for all the people that impacted me. It was a really cool moment."
Souza's knee injury happened while he was playing for Arizona in an exhibition game against the White Sox March 25, 2019. He was just running home and when he stepped on the plate, his foot seemed to slip and his knee collapsed like it was made of rubber. Souza was rolling on the ground in agony and had to be helped off the field. The diagnosis was ACL tear, LCL tear, partial PCL tear and posterior lateral capsule tear in his left knee.
"Before this knee injury, I tore my pec and just had a couple of freak injuries back-to-back," he said. "It was a grind. There were people telling me I wasn't going to make it back. There were people telling me my career was over. But I just believed there was a reason this all happened to me."
Eyes on the Marlins:
The coronavirus pandemic hits home for Souza because his sister-in-law Morgan is a nurse at the Mayo Clinic and deals with it every day.
"My sister in law is on the front lines," Souza said. "She's on the COVID unit and she's a champ, honestly. I talk to her almost every other day, just trying to encourage her, because it's a scary thing when you're in the middle of that."
Meanwhile, there's been plenty of discussion and speculation about the Miami Marlins, which had their season suspended until at least Monday after a reported 17 members of their traveling party tested positive.
The good news is there has been no positive tests among the Philadelphia Phillies, who played the Marlins in their opening series. But people within baseball and without will be wondering how that happened within one team.
"Everybody in the Cubs' organization has really set a high standard for taking care of the protocols," Souza said. "There's not one person that is being reckless with what we're doing. We're doing such a good job that I have a really skewed perspective, because I don't see why everybody else can't be doing what we're doing.
"So I don't know what other teams are doing and how they're following the protocols. I know it sucks for all of us. It's not ideal how we go about our day. But I'm watching the way we're having fun on the field and we're making these sacrifices on these protocols and being diligent to be able to do it.
"And I do believe that most teams are doing that and I think that we'll be able to finish out the season. This may be a wakeup call that we need stay strong and keep going on these protocols."