MESA, Ariz. – When it comes to conversations about things on the field for the Cubs in the offseason of 2018-2019, the team’s former MVP was a big part of them.
For the first time in his career at any level of the sports, Kris Bryant struggled with injuries. A nagging shoulder ailment put him on the disabled list twice during the season, limiting him to a career-low 102 games for the club in 2018.
His hitting struggles in his return from the last trip to the DL were part of the conversations concerning the Cubs’ offensive issues in the final month of the season. Those led to the team’s losing of the NL Central tiebreaker and a one-game exit from the playoffs.
It was a tough time for Bryant, who won Rookie of the Year in 2015, MVP in 2016, and hit a career-high .295 in 2017. Hence the third baseman is eager, and in his mind able, to turn to page starting now in spring training.
“100 percent,” said Bryant when asked about the shoulder. “I feel great.”
It’s a welcome change from last season, when the nagging injury landed him on the disabled list for parts of June, July, and in August. When he came back in September, Bryant wasn’t the same, hitting just .265 with just two homers and eight RBI. In the NL Central tiebreaker against the Brewers and the Wild Card game against the Rockies, Bryant went 1-for-8 with four strikeouts as the Cubs generated only two runs of offense.
Hence the longer offseason was beneficial to Bryant, who had played into late October during three straight Cubs’ runs to the National League Championship Series, was quite beneficial. Arriving last week in Mesa, Bryant feels no restrictions as he returns full strength to training camp.
“I feel like the offseason was the time to ease into it, which I did, now it’s time to go,” Bryant said when asked if he would ease into the workouts.
“I’m ready to go full steam ahead. I mean, I’m not going to be out there swinging for the fences or any of that, but I think anytime I take the baseball field, whether it’s a spring training or an actual game, I’m looking to do damage and that’s kinda my mindset for this year.”
With good help, he’ll get every chance to do so.