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Kris Bryant weighs in on his uncertain future with the Chicago Cubs and mental health
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Kris Bryant weighs in on his uncertain future with the Chicago Cubs and mental health

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Cardinals Cubs Baseball

Chicago Cubs' Kris Bryant (17) watches his three-run double against the St. Louis Cardinals during the seventh inning of a baseball game, Friday, July 9, 2021, in Chicago.

The number of innings remaining at Wrigley Field before Friday’s trade deadline continue to dwindle.

The reality is Kris Bryant’s home run in the ninth inning of a 7-4 loss to the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday night could be one of his last in a Chicago Cubs uniform.

Whether he departs before the deadline or in the offseason as a free agent, Bryant doesn’t know what the future holds. He quipped that perhaps when he’s retired he can come back to Wrigley to throw out a first pitch but added with a laugh, “I always said I wouldn’t sing the seventh-inning stretch.”

Bryant sounds ready for all the trade speculation to be over with amid the uncertainty over his future.

Scott and Mike discuss the trade options for the Chicago Cubs as well as Kris Bryant's injury.

“Some of this stuff is just exhausting. It really is,” he said after Tuesday’s loss. “And I’m just trying to do my best to keep my focus where it needs to be and help whoever I can along the way here and just take everything in stride. And whatever happens, it’s out of my control.”

Bryant won’t rule out a return to the Cubs if the organization parts ways with the former National League MVP.

“I feel like I’ve always been really consistent in that,” Bryant said. “Sometimes the narrative out there has never been right, and it’s been frustrating for me to see some of that. But deep down in my heart, I know I’ve had some of the best memories here and the best times in my life. It’d be really stupid of me not to say hey, if they wanted me here, of course I’m always going to listen because Chicago is a special place to me.”

For players like Bryant who have been with the organization for years, the Cubs’ status as sellers instead of buyers is an unfamiliar position. With it comes a different type of scrutiny.

Bryant described being on the other end of it as part of the cycle of baseball.

“You can’t just sit there and sulk or whatever it may be,” he said.“You can’t just think about it nonstop because then you’ll go crazy. Then it takes away from what you do on the field.”

Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant

Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant during the workout at Citi Field in preparation for Game 1 of their National League Championship Series against the Mets on Oct. 16, 2015.

Bryant reflected how he battled that the previous three seasons in which he “let it kind of bubble up in there and kind of paid more attention to it in a negative way.”

Now he’s trying to take everything in stride and telling himself he can’t control everything — it’s not worth stressing or worrying about. By Friday afternoon, Bryant knows where he will be spending the rest of the season.

Athletes’ mental health has come in focus recently, sparked by the attention raised by tennis star Naomi Osaka and U.S. gymnast Simone Biles. Biles pulled herself out of the Olympic women’s gymnastics team competition Tuesday because of her mental health. When asked about the topic, a thoughtful Bryant said mental health needs to be talked about more in sports and life.

Bryant applauded Biles for her courage to take care of herself when she wasn’t in the right headspace. Mental health is a focus for Bryant too, regardless if he’s in or out of uniform.

“I’m constantly working on the mental aspects of this game and I’ve never even come close to mastering or perfecting it,” Bryant said. “But it’s always a challenge and there’s always something new, whether it’s trade talk or you sucking playing baseball or something off the field or just a bunch of worries or the future or the past — all that stuff pops in your head.

“And it’s just important to surround yourself with people who help you along the way and pick up the guitar or play some video games, take your mind off it. And that’s kind of what I do. Chase the little guy around the house. I have some chocolate cake, some ice cream. That helps, and go to sleep, get nine hours of sleep and wake up and have a positive attitude for the next day.”

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