Cubs' Bryant gets knee treated, eyes Tue. return

SAN DIEGO -- Chicago Cubs star Kris Bryant had a cortisone injection in his right knee on Sunday and is hoping to play as soon as Tuesday against the San Diego Padres, the third baseman said. Bryant, 27, missed his second straight game on Monday as the nagging injury finally forced him to do something other than just sitting out.

"Today [Monday] I woke up and it definitely is helping," Bryant said of the shot. "I feel a lot better. ... At some point you have to put your pride aside. I'm glad I did it because I think I may have finally found a solution to put this in the past."

Bryant initially injured the knee before and after the All-Star break on several awkward slides into second base. He's played through it but his numbers have taken a dive: He has only a .773 second-half OPS.

"I think what we did was right, in terms of getting a shot and making myself ready to go for the rest of the year," he said. "I want to be out there 100 percent for the guys. And if I'm at 60-70 percent, that's a complete disservice to everyone here and our fans. I want to do all I can to get it right."

Meanwhile, the Cubs didn't hear anything extra encouraging regarding their ailing shortstops. Javier Baez saw a hand specialist in Chicago on Monday, confirming the hairline fracture in his left thumb. He's likely out the rest of the month but could return for the postseason, if the Cubs make it that far. Baez also injured himself on a slide into second base, back on Sept. 1.

Baez's back-up, Addison Russell, was scheduled to see the Padres' team doctors on Monday after he left Sunday's game after getting hit in the face by a pitch. He's in concussion protocol and not in Monday's lineup.

The injuries have left an opening for 2018 first-round pick Nico Hoerner to receive his first call-up to the big leagues after spending most of the season at Double-A.

"One thing that stands out with him is a lot of self-confidence," manager Joe Maddon said. "From the moment I met him he gave me the impression that he thought he belongs here."

Hoerner was at home on the couch in northern California on Sunday when he got the call to head to San Diego. He was in the lineup playing shortstop and batting sixth on Monday against the Padres after compiling a .292 batting average and .349 on-base percentage in the minors this season. He's the first draft pick from the 2018 class to play in a big league game.

"The consistent message from everyone I talk to is to handle it as normal as I can," Hoerner said. "It's especially unique to debut with a team that's actually trying to win. That's probably the most exciting part of it."