Kris Bryant has hit only one home run since July 5, but there's no panic in his voice.
The reason is that his batting average actually has risen four points higher to .282 during that span.
"I have 26 this year," Bryant said. "I had 26 all of last year. I'm in a pretty good spot right now. I'm not worried about it. They come in bunches when you start hitting them.
"That's something that people don't understand at times. It's really hard to hit a ball over the fence. You're hitting the ball pretty perfect or near perfect when you're doing that. And the hits we get, our swings aren't perfect all the time."
Bryant remains encouraged that refining his swing so that he's on a flatter plane through the strike zone and not prone to popups is working.
"It's a game of inches," Bryant said. "There's times where you line out, if you were a centimeter under the ball, it would be a home run. There are certain ways to look at certain things. It's all part of the whole process of this game. Sometimes it frustrates us."
In the flow: Newcomer Joe Smith appreciated that manager Joe Maddon used him in consecutive games after Smith allowed a home run Wednesday in his Cubs debut.
"The more times I can get out there, the better for me," said Smith, who pitched a scoreless eighth on Friday.
Smith admitted he's getting accustomed to new teammates that include three catchers, two of which he has thrown to in games.
"Crazy stuff happens in life," said Smith, who came to the Cubs on Aug. 1 in a trade with the Angels. "It's fun to come over here, but at the same time, you get derailed a bit mentally. It's kind of emotional with the stress involved. But it's no excuse. I still have to pitch. I'm not worried."
Extra innings: John Lackey will start Tuesday night against the Angels, with Jason Hammel moved back to Wednesday. … According to a tentative 2017 schedule, the Cubs will play host to the Yankees May 5-7 and travel to Baltimore to play the Orioles on July 14-16, a source said. The official 2017 schedule is expected to be finalized this fall.
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