Kris Bryant Expected Back Saturday, Likely Sporting New Look

Kris Bryant ran through a full slate of baseball activities Friday morning after doing so Thursday and should be ready to go for the weekend. Joe Maddon said that his third baseman was “feeling more like himself,” which is sort of an interesting way of putting it, then wagered that Bryant would be in “really good shape” and ready for Saturday’s lineup.

Bryant may look a little different when he does return to the batter’s box for the first time since taking a German Marquez fastball to the head last Sunday. Maddon seemed to indicate during his pregame media availability that Bryant would be switching to the c-flap helmet that better covers a hitter’s face, similar to those worn by Javy Baez, Albert Almora Jr., and Jason Heyward.

“[It’s] a must,” A source with knowledge of the situation confirmed Friday afternoon.

Should Bryant indeed opt for the more protective headgear, it wouldn’t be the first time he’s worn it. As you can see from the picture below, he wore a c-flap helmet as a Little Leaguer back in Las Vegas. It’s been 15 years, but as you can see from the hands, Bryant’s still got several of the same habits he established way back when.

Every hitter is different, but the extended helmet hasn’t seemed to hurt either half of the Al Mago Daily Double. And while some might point out that Heyward isn’t the best example in that regard, he’s been wearing the c-flap since a beanball broke his jaw as an Atlanta Brave in 2013. So it’s not the helmet that’s impacted his performance in any way.

Of utmost importance here is that Bryant is fully recovered and that he is taking steps to ensure his safety moving forward. He’s been hit by an MLB-leading seven pitches already this season and that number is only going to increase as pitchers try to beat him inside.

You’ve also got to consider the issue of comfort, which cuts a couple different ways. The most obvious is that Bryant may have to adjust to a different view of the pitcher and the ball, not to mention a slight reduction in his peripheral vision. But he may also reap the benefits of peace of mind from having a little more protection.

That fastball jumped on him before he was really able to react, something that could leave a hitter a little gun-shy for a while after. You may recall how Barry Bonds’ massive elbow pad allowed him to crowd the plate with impunity, since he didn’t fear getting hit on that lead arm. Bryant has likewise reaped the benefits of an EvoShield (I’m pretty sure that’s the brand he uses) elbow guard that has borne the brunt of a couple pitches already this season.

In the end, a move to the more protective helmet should be a good thing for Bryant. I’d actually like to see more hitters adopt it on a proactive basis, to be honest.

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