Bryant's return from injury is golden for Cubs

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Chicago Cubs' Kris Bryant hits a grand slam against the Chicago White Sox during the third inning of a baseball game in Chicago, Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020.

    Chicago Cubs' Kris Bryant hits a grand slam against the Chicago White Sox during the third inning of a baseball game in Chicago, Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 9/26/2020 11:08 PM

Before the start of the seventh inning, Cubs manager David Ross walked down the dugout and congratulated his players on winning the NL Central title.

The Cubs clinched during their 9-5 loss to the White Sox on Saturday when Milwaukee beat St. Louis. They'll host a first-round playoff series this week against an opponent to be determined.

 

"That was cool," Ross said. "A lot of hard work from those guys. Overcoming a lot this year, really a unique season and I couldn't be prouder of what these guys mean to me and this organization and how they carried themselves.

"(After the game) I thanked them for everything. I ended it with it's nice to have really good players, it really is."

Kris Bryant returned to the lineup after four days off with a tight oblique wearing high socks and two gold chains. He singled in his first at bat and hit a grand slam home run his second time up.

The chains were worn by Anthony Rizzo earlier this season.

"Those are (coach Mike) Napoli's," Rizzo said. "Kris was wearing his pants up and he asked me to go pants up with him again. So I had the feeling before the game, 'Hey you trust me right? Come with me.' We kind of gave him the chains and had fun with it.

"He gets that first at bat knock and we're all pumped and then he gets the homer. So there's some magic in there and credit to Napoli for keeping the magic in those two gold chains."

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Bryant has been struggling all season and seemed to have a smile on his face about a second after he connected on the home run.

"Sure, maybe I'll wear (the chains) until there's no magic left," he said. "I'm not really a jewelry guy, especially not two big gold chains, but I'll do whatever works for the team."

Bryant was obviously glad to get back on the field and get back to work before the playoff begin.

"Yeah, I just want at bats and make sure that everything's feeling good," he said. "It's always good when you get 2 hits in your first 2 at bats. So that felt good and it feels good to be on top of the Central again. Very proud of the group and how we battled through the craziness we've been going through every day."

Asked his level of health, Bryant declined to answer.

"I don't know. Everybody's always asking me percentages," he said. "Who know? I'm good to go out there and compete. It's something that (former manager) Joe (Maddon) always told me before I go in the box, one thing I miss about him. He told me, 'Go out there and compete. That's all you've got to do.' And that's I ought to do.

"I feel like I've been trying to find my timing all year, but when you have two good at bats where you can be late and shoot one the other way and early and hit one over the left-field fence, that's kind of what I'm going for and it certainly makes me feel good."

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