The Rockies announced Thursday that outfielder Kris Bryant has been placed on the 10-day IL (retroactive to May 31) with a bruised left heel. Bryant was out of the lineup yesterday after fouling a ball off his left foot in Tuesday’s game. Outfielder/designated hitter Charlie Blackmon was reinstated from the bereavement list in a corresponding move.
It’s the first IL stint of the season for Bryant but the fourth since signing a seven-year deal with the Rockies. He missed time late last season due to plantar fasciitis in this same foot and was also shelved due to back troubles.
The former NL Rookie of the Year and MVP is putting the ball in play and drawing walks at above-average rates so far in 2023, but he hasn’t yet delivered much in the way of power. Bryant has just five homers and six doubles in 214 plate appearances this season, giving him a .111 ISO (slugging minus batting average) that’s 50 points below the league average. Overall, the 31-year-old is hitting .263/.346/.374 with a 9.8% walk rate and 17.3% strikeout rate.
Bryant has moved across the outfield grass from left to right field in 2023, accommodating fellow free-agent signee Jurickson Profar. He’s already totaled a career-high 317 innings in right field, but defensive metrics have panned his work there (-7 Defensive Runs Saved, -3 Outs Above Average). It’s certainly possible that his slate of injuries over the past year has hampered his range and contributed to those poor marks. After ranking in the 71st percentile of MLB players in average sprint speed as recently as 2021, Bryant sat in the 50th percentile in 2022 and is in just the 35th percentile so far in 2023, per Statcast. He also ranks in the 17th percentile of big leaguers in terms of Statcast’s outfield jump metric.
With Bryant on the shelf, the Rockies will likely go with an outfield alignment of Profar, Brenton Doyle and Randal Grichuk from left to right. Their bench currently has backup catcher Austin Wynns, utility infielder Alan Trejo and corner infielders Mike Moustakas and Elehuris Montero, which doesn’t leave them with a traditional fourth outfielder. However, Nolan Jones — who’s mostly played first base since his recall — can slot into an outfield corner, as can the veteran Blackmon. Grichuk, meanwhile, has ample experience in center field, should Doyle need a day off or need to exit a game due to injury.