Kris Bryant says he’s healthy and happy to be back and insists he doesn’t feel the pressure of trying to revive the stumbling Rockies.
But he also knows that he’s not a miracle worker for a team that’s been in last place in the National League West since May 10.
“They just want me to be myself, be a good teammate and be another guy here,” the left fielder said Monday before the Rockies (31-42) hosted the Dodgers (45-26) at Coors Field. “Going back to the offseason, that was the message that was preached to me and I enjoyed that type of team message.
“I feel like when you go out there and try to be who you’re not, that’s when things just, kind of, don’t go your way. I just want to be the type of player that I am, and whether that’s a good day, a bad day or a so-so day, I’ll just keep putting the uniform on every day and continue to be who (I am).”
Bryant, 30, who missed 44 games because of a lower-back injury that required two stints on the injured list, was scheduled to start in left field night and hit third Monday night.
Manager Bud Black, who has frequently called Bryant the club’s best offensive player, is clearly excited to have Bryant back in the lineup. After all, the Rockies signed Bryant to a seven-year, $182 million contract that was the largest free-agent contract in franchise history.
“The thing we were all looking for is that he’s gotten to a place, physically, where he is confident,” Black said. “He’s put a lot of work in and he’s shown that he’s healthy.
“So, he’s back with us, resuming this season, and hopefully he can do what he’s very capable of doing. Which is being a very great offensive player. And a great baseball player.”
Entering Monday’s game, Bryant had played in just 17 games this season, slashing .270/.342/.333 with no home runs. In four rehab games for Triple-A Albuquerque, he was 1-for-13 with a double, two walks and seven strikeouts.
As for the weight of expectations that might come with trying to jumpstart his new team, Bryant said he doesn’t feel the pressure because he’s handled it before.
“I guess I’ve kind of always been under pressure … going back to college,” he said. “It was like, ‘Oh, I’ve gotta be the top pick.’ And being a top pick, it was like, ‘Oh, I’ve gotta make it to the big leagues.’ Then I’ve got to go out there and win rookie of the year and then win a World Series and all of these things.
“I feel like I’ve been doing it for so long that sometimes I don’t even think about that because I’ve had the experience of going through pressures. I don’t think I have to change anything, and I won’t. Because that’s just not who I am.”
Bryant, however, admitted that he might be a little rusty, given his long rehab stint and limited at-bats at Triple-A.
“It can always be better, but I feel like I saw plenty of pitches,” he said. “That was my goal, too, just to see as many pitches as I could, and having a bunch of 3-2 counts and seeing a bunch of pitches go all over.
“There will be some rust, but I have been working in the cages and working with the (pitching) machine, as much as I can to simulate a real game and real velocity.”