Cubs' Bryant leaves with injury against Nationals

WASHINGTON (AP) Chicago Cubs third baseman and 2016 NL MVP Kris Bryant exited Wednesday's game against the Washington Nationals with a ''mild-to-moderate'' right ankle sprain.

The Cubs announced X-rays on the injured ankle were negative and that a potential DL stint remains uncertain. Manager Joe Maddon said Bryant would sit out at least the next two games including Thursday's series finale.

Bryant, steps away from the third base bag in foul territory, camped under a pop-up off the bat of Nationals catcher Matt Wieters in the bottom of the sixth. He drifted slightly back toward the third base line when making the catch. In the process, Bryant clipped the base with his right foot.

He immediately grimaced and began walking gingerly. The Cubs' training staff tended to Bryant and helped him off the field.

''It dpoesn't take a whole lot and the awkward momentum off the base caused it,'' Maddon said of the ankle sprain. ''I was watching closely and you could see it was more painful than you would think.''

Jeimer Candelario replaced the Cubs' No. 2 hitter with two outs in the inning and Chicago trailing 7-3. Washington held on for the 8-4 win.

''I did not want to leave (Bryant) out there. Wanted to get him off the field quickly, get that iced as soon as possible and see what's going on,'' Maddon said.

Bryant went 2 for 3 against Washington starter Stephen Strasburg. He is batting .264 with 16 home runs and 32 RBIs.

''Get him off his feet literally for a couple of days and I still believe it's going to benefit us in August and September,'' the glass-half-full Maddon said. ''So let's keep moving it forward and hopefully it's not too bad.''

Chicago's second straight loss dropped the defending World Series champions to 39-39 on the season. Bryant's injury came on the same day the Cubs cut veteran catcher Miguel Montero after he criticized pitcher Jake Arrieta for his role in the Nationals' seven steals in Tuesday's 6-1 win.

''Things happen. You have to fix them when things happen,'' Maddon said. ''You don't cry. Of course suboptimal, no question. ...We have a game to win (Thursday). (Bryant) will not be starting, obviously, so we'll try to figure it out in another way.''

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