The Chicago Cubs hope to have third baseman Kris Bryant back in the lineup when they host the Kansas City Royals on Monday night to open a two-game series.
Bryant, a three-time All-Star and the 2016 National League MVP, has missed the past two games because of stomach problems. He repeatedly has tested negative for the coronavirus, the team said, but he remained in baseball’s COVID-19 protocol as a precautionary measure.
“It’s kind of out of our hands right now,” Cubs manager David Ross said to reporters Sunday. “Just following the protocols through MLB. He really needs to be commended for going in and getting checked out. With all we’ve got going on, we’re trying to take the right precautions just to keep everybody safe.
“But Kris feels much better today. Stomach issues are gone and the tests are back negative.”
If Bryant is able to play, he will go up against Royals left-hander Danny Duffy (0-1, 5.79 ERA), who still is looking for his first win of the season as he prepares for his third start. The 31-year-old Duffy gave up two runs in 4 1/3 innings in his season debut against the Cleveland Indians on July 24, and he allowed four runs in five innings on Wednesday against the Detroit Tigers. The Royals lost both games.
Duffy has made one career start against the Cubs, allowing two runs in seven innings for a 2.57 ERA. He did not earn a decision during the 2011 matchup.
Duffy is eager to move past his most recent performance against Detroit.
“I felt confident with what I was doing out there,” Duffy said to reporters. “It just didn’t go our way, and it’s unacceptable. To have that kind of stuff tonight — that kind of stuff that I had, (I’ve) got to go deeper into the game, man. It’s brutal. Got to go deeper.”
Cubs right-hander Alec Mills (1-0, 3.00 ERA) is set to make his second start of the season — and the first career start against his former team. The Royals drafted Mills in the 22nd round of the 2012 draft, and he made his major league debut for Kansas City in 2016, allowing five runs over 3 1/3 innings for a 13.50 ERA.
Mills slid into the Cubs’ starting rotation this season as a replacement for left-hander Jose Quintana, who injured his thumb while washing dishes. The Tennessee native quickly took advantage of the opportunity, earning the victory in his season debut against the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday night. He gave up two runs in six innings, which matched the longest outing of his career.
Teammate David Bote said he enjoys watching Mills take the mound. Mills is not a prototypical power pitcher, but he relies on good command and a mix of pitches to keep hitters off balance.
“It’s similar to Kyle Hendricks,” Bote said recently in comments published by MLB.com. “You’re like, ‘Where’s the out pitch?’ Or, ‘What’s getting people so tied up?’ And I faced him in Summer Camp, and it was not a fun at-bat.
“I mean, I don’t even know what it is. It’s just like the speed discrepancies. He’s locating his fastball. He gets people off balance, soft contact.”
–Field Level Media