Despite being limited to 42 games due to a lower back strain and left foot plantar fasciitis, Rockies’ outfielder Kris Bryant has proclaimed himself 100% ready for baseball, reports Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post. Saunders adds that Bryant does not anticipate any restrictions when he reports to Salt River Fields for Spring Training. Manager Bud Black added to Bryant’s confident statement, saying that Bryant is “encouraged that he’ll be exactly where he needs to be a month from now.”
Bryant reportedly began ramping up his rehab shortly after the season ended, and has not experienced any setbacks with his back or foot. Nevertheless, plantar fasciitis is a particularly tricky injury, with recurrence common due in part to the limited blood flow around the heel and the constant use of one’s foot. A recent example of the impact of plantar fasciitis is slugger Albert Pujols, who missed part of the 2013 season after experiencing continued pain caused by his plantar fasciitis. However, Pujols’ decision to rest did not fully heal this issue, and the three-time MVP was forced to undergo surgery in late 2016 in an attempt to ease his ailment.
When discussing his injury, Bryant told reporters that he believes that he might have contributed to his plantar fasciitis while recovering from his back injury, compensating for his decreased power by overworking his lower body. Nevertheless, Bryant added that he is working with Scott Pensivy, a Las Vegas-based physical therapist who has previously worked with NBA players and Bryant himself, to correct the issue and reduce future setbacks. Bryant added that he’s had “no hiccups and no setbacks” and that he’s, “completely moved in the right direction.”
Bryant’s positive assertion is a welcome site for the Rockies, who struggled to a 68-94 record without him during the 2022 season. Bryant started the 2022 season slashing a weak .281/.339/.351, before he was placed on the injured list, missing the majority of May and June. He returned with a bang in July, hitting .341/.411/.612 in 95 plate appearances before injuries forced the end of his season. Outside of Bryant’s limited performance, Colorado’s offense struggled. No Colorado player (minimum 150 plate appearances) finished the season with a higher average, on-base percentage, or slugging percentage than Bryant. Additionally, only All-Star C.J. Cron finished the year with a slugging percentage greater than .435 (minimum 150 plate appearances), despite playing in one of the most hitter-friendly stadiums. In addition to the threat of Bryant’s bat, Black hopes that Bryant’s “presence will be felt by the opposing pitcher,” which will help “all our guys.” Bryant signed a seven-year, $182MM contract with Colorado before the 2022 season, the largest free agent contract in franchise history, that will keep him with the club through the 2028 season.