Chicago Cubs' Kris Bryant: Shoulder Is Healthy

By Audacy

(670 The Score reporting from Mesa, Ariz.) -- The Chicago Cubs didn't add a free-agent star such as Bryce Harper or Manny Machado this offseason, but they will be welcoming back a healthy Kris Bryant.

A two-time All-Star and the 2016 National League MVP, Bryant struggled with a left shoulder injury in 2018 that limited him to 102 games, 13 home runs, 52 RBIs and an .834 OPS -- all career-low numbers. He went into this offseason aiming to rest that shoulder, not even picking up a bat for two months.

So, with the Cubs now in spring training, how is Bryant feeling?

"Right when I picked up a bat, the first time I was swinging, I was like, 'Oh, wow, this is night-and-day,'" Bryant said on the "Bernstein & McKnight Show" on Monday morning. "I don't feel anything at all. Everything feels like it's completely healed. I kind of expected it to be a progression in the offense when I picked up a bat, but I didn't feel it at all.

"I got to a point in the offseason where my left shoulder was stronger than my right shoulder. I was doing so much work on that side. I'm like, 'All right, I'm right where I need to be.' Everything feels great. I'm going into spring 1,000 percent confident that this isn't going to happen again."

The Cubs will be counting on Bryant to produce as he has before after their 95-win season in 2018 ended in disappointment with an exit in the National League wild-card game, which came a day after a loss to the Milwaukee Brewers in Game 163 with the NL Central crown at stake.

Bryant returning to form can help the Cubs regain the division title and go deeper into the playoffs.

"Expectations have changed," Bryant said. "Any time you get eliminated from the playoffs that early, nobody's going to be happy about it. It doesn't matter what you did to get to that point, whether it's 95 wins or 85 and a wild card. We still made the wild card. It wasn't fun going out like that.

"Expectations have completely changed in four years. It's not a bad thing. It's frustrating at times because you want to stick up for your team and say all the right things and say, 'We won 95 games and (made) the fourth playoff appearance in a row.' But we just didn't end up getting it done. That's where all the frustration comes from."