Armed with a New Swing Finish, Kris Bryant's First Rehab Start Was a Success (VIDEOS)

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Armed with a New Swing Finish, Kris Bryant’s First Rehab Start Was a Success (VIDEOS)

Chicago Cubs

Last night, the 2016 NL MVP and 2015 NL Rookie of the Year, Kris Bryant, played a baseball game with the 2009 NL Rookie of the Year, Chris Coghlan, and two other bonafide Major Leaguers, Jorge Soler and Tyler Chatwood. And yet somehow, that game was played on a field in Omaha, not a big league stadium.

Of course, each player comes with their own unique path to ending up at the Triple-A contest last night, but it’s Bryant whose story we want to discuss.

As we all know, Bryant (shoulder) was down on the farm to finally begin his rehab assignment – and so the Cubs could get an additional ten years of team control – and from all accounts the night was a big success from a first-step point of view.

The Cubs third baseman went 0-3 at the plate with a walk and a strikeout, but it sounds like he smoked the first two balls in play (the second of which resulted in an error), so the hitless slash line is a little misleading in terms of what he actually did. Fortunately, for once, we don’t have to rely on just the box scores, as Evan Altman snagged some video of Bryant’s at-bats from the game.

Here’s a look at that fly out to right in his first chance:

If you had the volume on, you’ll have heard the announcer discuss the changes to Bryant’s swing – namely, finishing with both hands on the bat instead of just one (meant to reduce the stress on his shoulder) – and you can see he’s definitely carrying the hands through the swing more than before. Though to be sure, you can see his hand coming off the swing in this video.

Then again, it’s possible that (1) this change will take time to settle into second-nature for Bryant and/or (2) it’s not meant to be dramatically different than his usual swing anyway, especially when he’s going the other way like that. You don’t necessarily want to see enormous changes – just enough that it helps, but without sapping him of power. I mean, the guy nearly sent one out of the park the other way on the first live baseball he connected with since July.

In his second at-bat, Bryant sent another shot to the warning track – this time in left – and although he wound up on base, it should’ve been caught:

As Altman once again points out, Bryant’s hand comes off the bat a little on the swing that connects, though it’s definitely a little less obvious than his fly out to right, let alone his original swing in the Majors. That’s definitely a different finish than he had before.

Bryant did strike out swinging later in the night and we’ll share it here not because were masochists, but because it’s educational to get as many looks at Bryant’s new swing as possible:

Both swings in this video resulted in whiffs (the minor league pitcher, Pedro Fernandez, might just remember that at-bat for a while), but the hands definitely stayed on the bat through the swing. In fact, you wonder if Bryant was consciously working on it as the night went on.

In any case, from what we could see, the night was decidedly good. Bryant faced live, in-game pitching, made some contact to both fields, and, most importantly, seemed healthy. I’m guessing he might get another game at DH, before finally taking the field as the third baseman and I’d otherwise – all things equal – expect him back up with the club no later than September 1st.

And that’s soon. In the meantime, minor league fans will have to enjoy Bryant while they can:

Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami