When I saw this tweet, my first question was whether there was a disconnect between the front office (which adamantly has said recently that Kris Bryant will not return until he’s 100 percent and pain-free) and the manager:
— 670 The Score (@670TheScore) August 15, 2018
That said, I’m not entirely sure there’s really a disconnect between the front office’s position – they don’t want Bryant coming back when his shoulder is less than 100% because they don’t want him adjusting his game to compensate and avoid re-injury.
Here’s what Maddon said on the Bernstein & McKnight Show: “I’m not anticipating 100 percent. 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.”
On first blush, it sounds like a direct contradiction, but I’m not so sure it’s not mostly harmonious.
Bryant, who is taking swings off a tee and doing other baseball activities, is already pain-free. To that point, I think that’s the main thing that the front office is saying: they don’t want Bryant playing through pain. And I think the point Maddon is making is only that at this point in the year, guys are all playing through something, and for Bryant, it’s going to be his shoulder. That doesn’t mean he’ll be thrown out there when he’s obviously still hurt or when there’s a real risk of re-injury, but it does mean that at some point you have to play the best you can as healthy as you can possibly be.
That’s where I think Maddon is talking about the “manageable” side of things. If Bryant were 100%, you wouldn’t have anything to manage. But we know that the Cubs and Maddon will have to be cognizant of not working Bryant’s shoulder too hard here down the stretch. At that point, whether a guy is returning at “100%” is just a matter of semantics.
The real idea here is that the Cubs – all of the Cubs – don’t want Bryant out there playing through an injury or discomfort or changing is swing to avoid those things. Until he can do that comfortably through a full game’s worth of swings, and still feel good the next day, he won’t be back on the big league roster.
Hopefully, that point – whatever you want to call it – will come in early September.