Theo on Bryant: Some other time
Cubs president Theo Epstein isn’t ready to talk about the future of All-Star third baseman Kris Bryant. Epstein isn’t even ready to talk wins and losses in 2020.
“Right now, it’s hard enough to predict what tomorrow or next week will look like,” he said. “It’s a fool’s errand, I think, to try to predict what next year will look like or the next five years. That’s just the reality of the world we’re in.”
Reality? Here’s a bitter mouthful: Every team in the majors is a house of cards right now. That includes the Cubs, who are believed to be the only National League team without a positive test for COVID-19 among its players.
There’s a lot of pride around Wrigley Field in how players have adhered to health-and-safety protocols, but that and a bag of baseballs won’t buy them a moment of breathing easy.
“We can’t allow the good results thus far to create the illusion for us that we’re in control, because we’re not,” Epstein said. “The virus is the only thing in control right now.”
Bryant said this week that he hoped the Cubs wouldn’t trade him during a pandemic and expressed renewed interest in speaking with the club about a possible contract extension. He’s under contract through 2021.
Epstein isn’t there yet. “Honestly, I appreciate Kris’ comments,” he said. “I know that he loves being here, and he knows that we love having him as part of the organization . . . .
“[But] to delve too deeply into that and discuss contractual situations, it gets to a point where if you talk too much about it, it becomes inappropriate given the realities of everything going on in the world and where our focus truly is right now. So there will be a time to discuss those things later, but I personally don’t feel comfortable talking about that right now.”
Outfielder Albert Almora left the simulated game Friday night at Wrigley Field after crashing into the centerfield wall.
It sure looked like it when Almora raced straight back on a shot by Bryant off Craig Kimbrel but was unable to snare the ball before his momentum led him into the ivy-covered brick wall. Outfielders Kyle Schwarber and Jason Heyward rushed to Almora, who remained facedown on the warning track for about two minutes as two trainers and manager David
Ross tended to him.
After walking about 25 feet toward the dugout, Almora, hat and glove off, went down to a knee for a few seconds, appearing to collect himself. Then — under his own power — he took a slow, ginger walk to the dugout, down the steps and into the clubhouse.
Not 10 minutes later, word came from a Cubs spokesman that Almora had mildly bruised his ribs and could be back in action at camp on Saturday. Not a minute after that, Almora was standing in the on-deck circle with a bat in his hand. He walked to the plate and hit an RBI single.
Uh-oh? Guess not.
Rizzo still out
It was a third consecutive day on the shelf for first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who has a sore back. There isn’t a lot of concern about him, either, though.
“Rizz is getting better,” Epstein said. “It seems like a minor and very manageable issue, something that he’s gotten through in the past. He looks to be on that same timetable.”
Tyler Chatwood saw enough of Schwarber to last him awhile. The slugger homered deep to right and added a two-run double that ended Chatwood’s night.
Schwarber, Willson Contreras and Josh Phegley have two homers apiece in intrasquad games since camp started at Wrigley. After the long one off Chatwood, Ross met Schwarber halfway between the top dugout step and the on-deck circle for an air-arm bash or something of the sort. ✶
Veteran Jason Kipnis, who played nine years with the Indians, smacks a single during the Cubs’ intrasquad game Friday night at Wrigley Field.