Kris Bryant is trending in a positive direction toward a future return to the Rockies lineup.
The injured Colorado left fielder, after receiving a lower-back cortisone shot on Monday, joined teammates in pregame warmups on Friday with the Kansas City Royals visiting Coors Field.
That included a few swings in the batting cage, according to manager Bud Black, after Bryant refrained from taking cuts the last two weeks.
“He threw today, he ran around and he hit in the cage. No problems,” manager Bud Black said. “So, that’s a good sign. He’ll do that again tomorrow with a little bit more activity. Increase the intensity. Probably increase the number of swings as well. Probably go out and play some defense. … Probably do a little bit of that on Sunday morning as well. Then we’ll assess where he is. But it’s a good sign that he’s back on the field. That he’s doing all baseball activities.”
Bryant — signed to a seven-year, $182 million free-agent deal in March — last played for the Rockies on April 25 at Philadelphia. Bryant landed on the injured list while batting .281 with 16 hits, 11 runs and four RBIs over 15 games.
Bryant recently told The Post that his back injury “is more than just a (pulled) muscle, it’s deeper than that.” But his health had improved as of Friday afternoon.
“I’ve been through this … obviously, in Chicago being on the injured list a couple of times and not feeling great about it,” Bryant told reporters. “But it just happens. It’s part of the game. You’ve got to deal with it as they come and, hopefully, you find ways and routines to make sure that it doesn’t happen again and limit the flareups. Make sure my body is feeling right.”
Bryant is expected to play in one or two rehab games with Triple-A Albuquerque to get his timing back before making a return to play for Colorado.
“I would expect (a rehab assignment),” Black said. “That should happen.”
Connor Joe health. The Rockies’ hottest hitter was missing from the lineup Friday. First baseman/outfielder Connor Joe — riding a seven-game hit steak while batting .345 — has a non-COVID illness, Black said. But Joe was still at Coors Field among teammates, signaling that his illness is not a long-term concern.
“He’s a little bit under the weather,” Black said. “It’s sort of the same thing that (Randal) Grichuk had in San Francisco. He’s potentially available. … He’s sick. But he’ll be fine. As you know, Grichuk is back in there, and he missed a couple of days.”
Minor league signing. The Rockies signed right-handed pitcher José Ureña to a minor-league contract, per MLB.com. Ureña — formerly with the Brewers, Tigers and Marlins — will work out at the Rockies’ complex prior to being activated in the minors.
Ureña, 30, made four relief appearances in Milwaukee this season with a 3.52 ERA. He joins the Rockies after being designated for assignment by the Brewers and instead electing free agency.
Royals RHP Carlos Hernández (0-2, 7.15 ERA) at Rockies RHP Germán Márquez (0-3, 6.47)
6:10 p.m. Saturday, Coors Field
Radio: 850 AM/94.1 FM
Marquez, following his first All-Star selection in 2021, has struggled all season. He enters his seventh start of the year having lost three consecutive decisions. Marquez, in his previous start on Sunday, allowed four runs (three earned) on six hits with four walks and seven strikeouts over six innings. Marquez has made just one start against the Royals, as a rookie in 2017, with two runs allowed (both solo home runs) over six innings in a 3-2 Rockies win.
Hernandez will make his sixth start of the season and the first of his career against an NL West opponent. Hernandez endured his second loss of the year on Monday at Baltimore (6-1). He opened the game with four shutout innings before giving up six earned runs in the fifth on seven hits with two walks. Hernandez, over 13 career road contests (six starts), is 3-1 with a 3.44 ERA.
Trending: C.J. Cron entered Friday night’s game among the most prolific hitters in the National League this season with nine home runs (first), 71 total bases (second), 17 extra-base hits (t-third), 24 RBI (t-fourth) and a .602 slugging percentage (third).
At issue: The Rockies are in the midst of a 10-day, nine-game homestand hosting the Royals, Giants and Mets. Colorado’s 11 home wins entering Friday night were tied for most in the National League. But the Rockies are a lousy 5-10 in road games this season.
Sunday: Royals LHP Daniel Lynch (2-2, 4.01) at Rockies LHP Austin Gomber (2-3, 4.36), 1:10 p.m., ATTRM
Monday: Giants LHP Alex Wood (3-2, 3.60) at Rockies RHP Antonio Senzatela (2-2, 4.88), 6:40 pm., ATTRM
Tuesday: Giants RHP Alex Cobb (2-1, 3.98) at Rockies RHP Chad Kuhl (3-1, 2.88), 6:40 p.m., ATTRM
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism