CHICAGO – There really is no other place he wants to be, and over the course of a half-hour news conference, he made that obvious.
“I’m trying to make it clear in that I really love it here, I love playing here, and I love everything about the city and the people and the people in this clubhouse, and all around,” said Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant. “I’ve never not wanted to be here.”
That includes this unusual time in baseball, where players are having to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic as they return for a 60-game season. That’s very much hit home for Bryant, who became a father while the season was suspended, and keeping him along with his wife safe are a priority.
Yet so is baseball, with Bryant reiterating this week that he has no interest in opting out of the season despite all that’s going on.
“I just couldn’t do that,” said Bryant when asked about taking the season off, which a number of major names of done around baseball. “I’m gonna do everything I can to be safe and healthy and lead by example and encourage people to do the right thing.”
Yet at the same time, Bryant wants Major League Baseball to do the same when it comes to COVID-19 testing. Delays in administering the tests and getting the results have forced some clubs to shutdown workouts for the day out of caution.
Even the Cubs on Tuesday decided to push back their workouts as they await virus tests that were administered on Sunday.
It’s this issue that has most frustrated Bryant as he looks to stay safe for himself, family, and teammates over the next two months. On Monday, he wasn’t afraid to stress the need for improvement on this issue.
“What we agreed to was testing every other day, and we’ve had guys here that showed up on Sunday and hadn’t gotten tested again seven days later, and you don’t get the results for two days later either, so that’s nine days without know,” said Bryant.” So if we really want it to succeed, we’re gonna have to figure it out.
“I wanted to play this year because I felt that it would be safe and I would feel comfortable. Honestly, I don’t really feel that way, which is why I’m trying to keep my distance from everybody and wear a mask so we can get this thing going.”
What’s concerning most for Bryant is the fact that these issues have come when teams are not yet playing games or facing other opponents. There’s no exposure to another club or traveling involved, so issues with testing now could foreshadow greater issues in the future.
“This is the easy part, really,” said Bryant of the testing during summer camp. “When you get into the season and your traveling, you’re in an airplane, you’re in a hotel, you’re getting room service, who knows what other guys are doing, even on the other teams too. You’ve got to rely on everyone in this whole thing.
“I think if we can’t really nail the easy part, which is right now, when it’s just our players, we’ve got a big hill to climb.”
Right now, Bryant is willing to face that challenge with hope that testing will improve.