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Cubs’ Bryant exits vs. Cards with ankle sprain

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CHICAGO — Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant left Sunday’s game against the St. Louis Cardinals with a right ankle sprain after landing awkwardly at first base trying to beat out a double play.

Bryant, 27, hit a ground ball to third base in the bottom of the third inning as Cardinals third baseman Matt Carpenter began the double play opportunity. Bryant was hustling down the line and made a final stride toward the bag but rolled his ankle as he hit it. He left for X-rays, which revealed no fracture.

The Cubs veteran has already been dealing with a right knee issue that has plagued him throughout the second half. He was helped off the field by the Cubs’ training staff, placing little weight on his right foot. Ian Happ took over at third base for him.

Bryant is the reigning player of the week in the National League but has slumped this week as the Cubs have fallen further out of the playoff race.

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TV audience for World Series Game 1 falls 11.4% from 2018

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The World Series opener between the Washington Nationals and Houston Astros narrowly averted setting a record low.

Washington’s 5-4 victory Tuesday night averaged 12,194,000 fans, according to national numbers from Nielsen. That edges the 12,191,000 who tuned in for San Francisco’s 7-1 win over Kansas City in the 2014 opener.

The numbers are down 11.4% from last year’s Game 1 between the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers, which averaged 13.76 million viewers. The 2017 opener between Houston and LA averaged 14.7 million.

The game Tuesday still won the night for Fox. It was also the most-watched game of the postseason, surpassing the 7.47 million who watched Saturday’s Game 6 of the AL Championship Series between Houston and the New York Yankees.

According to Major League Baseball, the League Championship Series averaged 5.15 million viewers, which is down slightly from the 5.31 million average last season.

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Angels’ Mike Trout, Brewers’ Christian Yelich honored with Hank Aaron Award

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HOUSTON — After swatting a combined 89 home runs this season, Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels and Christian Yelich of the Milwaukee Brewers have been named the recipients of this year’s Hank Aaron Award, MLB announced Wednesday.

Trout, 27, hit a career-high 45 home runs, despite missing most of the last month of the season with a foot injury. He batted .291 with a .438 on-base percentage, drove in 104 runs and scored 110. He’s a leading candidate to win his third AL MVP award.

Yelich, 27, also missed the stretch run for the Brewers after suffering a fractured kneecap on a foul tip. After winning the NL MVP award in 2018, Yelich improved his numbers across the board, hitting a career-best 44 homers and winning his second straight batting title with a .329 average. He also finished with 97 RBIs, scored 100 runs and stole a career-high 30 bases.

The award was established in 1999 to honor the outstanding offensive performers in each league.

Both Trout and Yelich were on hand at Minute Maid Park to receive the award from Aaron and commissioner Rob Manfred prior to Game 2 of the World Series.

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For Cubs, David Ross a bridge between past and future

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CHICAGO — The Chicago Cubs‘ hiring of David Ross to be their next manager comes down to one thing: Trust.

As the team looks to begin anew, after missing the playoffs for the first time in five years, the front office is trusting Ross to manage friends and to move past the historic 2016 World Series title — in which he and others on the current team participated. When the search officially began, Cubs president Theo Epstein had a fine line to walk when discussing the idea of looking to the future with the possibility of hiring a player from the recent past.

“We’re looking forwards,” Epstein said at his end-of-year press conference last month. “We’re not looking backwards. In some ways there’s been too much emphasis on 2016 and looking back. His (Ross) connection to that team, or to some of our existing players, will not be a significant part of the evaluation.”

Some will simply point out the other candidates up for the job — especially Astros bench coach Joe Espada — wouldn’t need to separate themselves in that manner because they have no connection to the 2016 team. Are the Cubs adding an unnecessary hurdle? If Ross’ connection to the past is a detriment, the Cubs must feel the other qualities he brings to the position outweigh that negative.

And it might not even be a negative.

“It’s not a detriment either, as long as you trust the person to handle it the right way, trust the players to handle it the right way,” Epstein said. “It’s something you have to consider but I’m just saying what we’re looking for is someone who is a great manager for the Cubs moving forward.”

The team simply isn’t as worried about Ross’ friendships as much as they are in him getting the best out of those players. In that respect, those relationships could — and should — be a positive.

“We need to create a culture in the clubhouse with guys in uniform that push themselves to be the very best version of themselves,” Epstein said. “We have a great culture. We’re going to try and take it to the next level.”

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