Kris Bryant’s shoulder rehab moved forward in a meaningful way Saturday afternoon when he performed a little light tee work with no pain. It was only about 10 swings and he wasn’t going all out, but it was a sign that things are heading in the right direction.
Even so, the Cubs are no longer proceeding under the notion that they’ll get their superstar all the way back to full health and MVP form by the end of the season. Joe Maddon said as much when he joined 670 The Score’s Bernstein and McKnight Show Tuesday afternoon for his weekly appearance.
“I’m not anticipating 100 percent,” Maddon admitted. “That’s hard to anticipate or expect this time of year. We’re just waiting for him to work through this point, to get to the point where it’s manageable. He’s doing better. He’s doing more baseball activities right now.”
David Bote’s emergence has alleviated the urgency to rush Bryant back out there, but they know they’ll need their star for the final push. Just when that will be, however, no one is willing or able to say.
“It’s moving forward,” Maddon said of Bryant’s rehab. “I don’t have a real finish line in sight, but it’s getting better. KB’s actually smiling a lot, which is always a good thing.”
Getting Bryant back on the active roster is one thing, but the Cubs then need to worry about keeping him fresh and healthy over the last month or so of the season. Again, that’s where Bote comes in really handy by allowing Maddon to give Bryant more frequent rest without worrying about the drop-off evident in a typical replacement player.
“You would have to really be aware of resting [Bryant] and not pushing him too hard, especially right when he comes back,” Maddon said. “I’ve been around when guys have come back from injuries and sometimes I’ve seen them push too hard and before you know, something even worse happens.”
With a little over two weeks to go before rosters expand, a September return still feels like the most likely target. As long as the Cubs keep winning and can keep Milwaukee at arm’s length, there’s no reason to push Bryant out before it’s necessary.