ROCKIES

Kris Bryant is back, but is that a good thing for the Rockies?

May 21, 2024, 4:00 PM | Updated: 4:36 pm

Kris Bryant...

Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

After more than a month out of the Colorado Rockies lineup, the highest-paid first baseman in Major League Baseball, Kris Bryant, is back in the big leagues.

The Rockies have activated Bryant after a five-game rehab stint with the Albuquerque Isotopes. He had just three hits in 21 plate appearances with one being a double. That falls in line with the struggles the former MVP faced at the start of this season, getting off to the worst start of his career. He had seven hits in his first 55 plate appearances across 13 games before hitting the Injured List with another back issue.

Out of the 370 games the Rockies have played in the three seasons since Bryant signed a seven-year $182 million contract to play for Colorado, Bryant has appeared in just 135 of those contests. Despite Bryant accumulating a -0.9 WAR in his shortened time playing for the Rockies, the team has a 44% win percentage when he’s played and a 35% win percentage in the games without him. So even though he’s been mostly hurt and bad, he’s still been better than the alternative for the Rockies.

The Rockies sent down Sean Bouchard to make room for Bryant. Oddly, Nolan Jones didn’t also get recalled from his rehab assignment despite starting it at the same time as Bryant and being injured more recently. Jones hasn’t played in Triple-A since Friday, so something could be up there. Jones was also off to a really bad start before being sidelined with a back issue.

Bryant’s back issues goes back quite a while, with last year’s absence making headlines due to a comment about the team’s bad sleeping arrangement. This year, Bryant was pulled from the lineup during the April 13 game in Toronto due to back stiffness that set in after he collided with the right-field wall while making a catch in the second inning. Bryant remained in that game through the top of the fourth inning, striking out before Bud Black took him out.

Seven days earlier, Black gave Bryant a day off against Tampa Bay due to back tightness. Bryant returned to the lineup the following day as the designated hitter.

“We don’t want to pick a scab here,” Black said at the time. “Let’s get it feeling better.”

Bryant was out of the lineup for the April 14 series finale in Toronto and the first two games of the Colorado Rockies’ ongoing series against the Philadelphia Phillies. But because the Rockies didn’t place him on the Injured List after the Saturday diagnosis of back tightness, they were forced to use Kyle Freeland as a pinch runner late in a loss at Philadelphia. Bryant wound up on the IL and missed a month anyway. Meanwhile, The left-handed starter avoided serious injury at the time of the collision but was placed on the Injured List days later and hasn’t pitched since.

The Rockies went on a seven-game win streak last week but that ended over the weekend with a sweep. They had Monday off. During the good run of play Bryant talked to the Denver Post, again making interesting comments.

“I know [my talent] is still in there. There are flashes of it, and I can’t wait to get out there and play again,” Bryant said. “Some days, I just sit in bed and stare at the ceiling with the frustration. It’s hard.”

With Bryant returning and given the recent streak, maybe the Rockies will avoid the 100-loss season they’re once again pacing for. Bryant is playing first base in his return in Oakland on Tuesday.

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Kris Bryant is back, but is that a good thing for the Rockies?