Cubs prospect Kris Bryant on lack of September call-up: “I’m realizing this game is a business”

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Kris Bryant was the No. 2 pick in last year’s draft, hit .325 with 43 homers and a 1.098 OPS in 138 games between Double-A and Triple-A in his first full season as a pro, and will win a whole bunch of Minor League Player of the Year awards.

But he’s not being called up to the majors by the Cubs while a bunch of his Triple-A teammates get September promotions.

So what does Bryant think of that? Here’s what he told Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago:

I think now more than ever, I’m realizing this game is a business, and all I can do is go out there and play as hard as I can and make it really hard on the guys in charge. I think I did that this year. If I’m taking that mindset, then I’m not really going to be sitting there with my head down at the end of the year.

Bryant’s lack of a promotion is due to the Cubs not having to add him to the 40-man roster yet and not wanting to start his MLB service time, which was all news to Bryant:

It’s kind of funny, all the rules. Coming into professional baseball, I had no clue. I didn’t pay any attention to it in college, either. At the end of my first season, I kind of know the lingo about all this stuff. I guess the system works in some ways, and in some ways there are some flaws. I can’t focus on that. I’ve always been high on avoiding the distractions.

Based on merit alone Bryant would already be in the majors, but the Cubs want to keep him under team control for as long as possible and they aren’t going anywhere this season anyway. That probably annoys Bryant quite a bit, but he’s handling it well publicly and the Cubs are just doing what almost every team would do in the same situation. Blame the rules, not the team taking advantage of them.

Will Middlebrooks carted off field with left ankle injury

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Phillies third baseman Will Middlebrooks suffered a serious injury during Saturday’s Grapefruit League contest against the Orioles. The infielder was chasing down a pop fly in the eighth inning when he ran into left fielder Andrew Pullin, who inadvertently trapped Middlebrooks’ ankle under his leg. Middlebrooks was unable to put weight on his leg following the collision and was carted off the field and taken to a local hospital for X-rays.

Per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, not much is known yet about the severity of the ankle injury or the recovery time it will require, though it appears serious enough to set Middlebrooks back considerably as he seeks a backup/bench role with the team this spring.

The 29-year-old is currently seeking another opportunity to extend his six-year major-league career in 2018. He’s coming off of two down years with the Brewers and Rangers, during which he slashed a cumulative .169/.229/.262 with four extra bases through 70 plate appearances.