(670 The Score) Before the Cubs’ 7-1 win against the Indians on Tuesday, manager David Ross mentioned he wouldn’t be surprised to see slumping infielder/outfielder Kris Bryant get hot again soon.
Ross cited Bryant taking a pair of walks amid a string of better at-bats Monday in sharing his observation, which turned out to be a sign of what was to come in the evening. Bryant went 1-for-3 with a homer and a walk and also hit a ball to the warning track that was an out.
That was a good sign for the Cubs, who have struggled offensively as a team as Bryant himself slumped. Prior to their breakout Tuesday, the Cubs had scored just a combined 16 runs in their previous nine games.
After a monster first two months of the season, Bryant has slumped in June, hitting .133 with a .485 OPS.
“I am a big, big believer in doing more pregame work inside,” Bryant said. “Outside, you are more concerned about how the ball looks after it hits your bat. I think we are all guilty of that, looking at the ball as it goes into the stands. When I take batting practice on the field, I expect perfection. Anything short of that, I find I become frustrated with myself.”
Bryant’s struggles included a career-worst string of 48 straight at-bats without an extra-base hit before he homered Tuesday. Bryant has seemed somewhat in between in many of his at-bats lately, with Ross saying he thought the ball "was getting a little too deep on him.”
Lately, hitting coach Anthony Iapoce has seen positive signs in Bryant’s approach.
“KB has been doing his work in the batting cage,” Iapoce said. “He is working on the swing but at the same time, we talk about his thought process. He was chasing hits up until a few days ago. He had a couple of walks (Monday) night. He had been out front a little bit and then at times waiting a little longer. That is when things are described as in between. So seeing pitches and taking walks is the first step to getting back your swing.”
For his part, Bryant has tried to keep an even-keeled perspective and stay within his game. Sometimes that means not getting too high about one’s success, because you don’t want it to lead you to expand the zone.
“You have a 14-game hitting streak and you want to keep it going,” he said. “So you don't want to walk, you just want to keep getting hits. So what happens is you swing at a borderline pitch and then you expand a little more and little more. All of a sudden you find yourself swinging at pitches you don't really want to be swinging at. You have to backtrack rewind and try to get out of that hole. When you are doing good, you just want to keep swinging. Sometimes you have to do the opposite.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.