Results tagged ‘ Kris Bryant ’

3/1 Extra bases: Bryant, the varsity and more

* Kris Bryant has impressed Cubs manager Joe Maddon so far this spring.

“He’s solid, he’s motivated,” Maddon said Sunday of the Cubs’ top prospect. “He’s got a really nice way about him. He’s really good, he knows he’s really good but he carries that very well. I like that. False humility doesn’t do anything. It’s kind of a worthless quality. I think his humility is sincere but he also knows that he’s good.”

After batting .325, hitting 43 home runs and driving in 110 runs at Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa, Bryant is very close to getting to the big leagues. Will the third baseman be ready for the Cubs on Opening Day?

“Somewhere,” Maddon said, smiling. “There’s all kinds of Opening Days.”

* Part of Sunday’s drills included work on rundown plays. They will do so at least two more times this spring, Maddon said.

“Today was just a basic, ‘Let’s talk about the concepts and principles behind it,'” Maddon said. “They’ve heard it a thousand times. I promise you most of them have forgotten about it. You bring out the runners with high energy and that’s how you really see it and the weaknesses exposed.”

* Cubs pitchers scheduled to throw live batting practice on Monday include Felix Doubront, Eric Jokisch, Hector Rondon, Zac Rosscup, Brian Schlitter, Pedro Strop and Drake Britton. Several of them will do so at Sloan Park, where the Cubs projected regular lineup took batting practice on Sunday.

“I like the varsity in the stadium,” Maddon said. “The varsity has earned the right to be in the stadium. The JV’s are trying to get to the varsity field. I like that. I’m a capitalist even when it comes to learning how to become a baseball player. I’m not into socialism or communism.”

* Daniel Bard, who has not pitched in the big leagues since 2013, threw a bullpen early Sunday. Bard is trying to comeback from undergoing Thoracic outlet syndrome in January 2014.

* The Cubs, who open the Cactus League season with split squad games on Thursday, will not play an intrasquad game.

* Former Cubs pitching coach Dick Pole was in Mesa Sunday. Pole, who started coaching in the Cubs organization in 1983 and joined the big league staff in 1988, was in Arizona to attend the funeral service for Wendell Kim, who passed away recently. Kim was the Cubs’ third base coach in 2003-04.

— Carrie Muskat

2/23 Maddon: Bryant “gets it”

Kris Bryant had his one-on-one meeting with Joe Maddon Monday, and, no, the Cubs top prospect did not tell the manager that he belonged on the Opening Day roster. Bryant, 23, is confident, but knows he has to show Maddon and the Cubs he’s ready.

“It’s always been a dream of mine to play in the big leagues,” Bryant said Monday. “I feel I’m pretty close now. I’m going to use this Spring Training as a way to go out there and get better in those areas.”

The Minor League player of the year last season after batting .325, hitting 43 home runs and driving in 110 at Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa, Bryant first met Maddon in December during the Winter Meetings.

“He’s a guy I want to play for — I sure hope I get the chance this year,” Bryant said.

Cubs fans hope so, too. They can be assured that Bryant didn’t bring all his trophies to Mesa. He left them at home and has moved on.

“I know I have a lot to prove on the field and those [rankings] are just opinions I can’t control,” he said. “The only expectations I have to live up to are the ones I have on my own and I can assure you mine are greater than anybody’s out there.”

Maddon’s first impressions of the Cubs top prospect?

“That he gets it,” Maddon said. “Of course, he’s talented, great body, great power, wonderful arm, good third baseman, good outfield. He’s a lot of good things and he gets it. I think he understands the work involved necessary to be great. He’s rather humble for me. He’s not outgoing in a sense in a negative way. He knows he’s good. There’s also a humility about him, too.”

Maddon said Bryant could see some playing time in outfield this spring but will likely focus on third.

“Long term, Kris would be a nice long term solution,” Maddon said. “Is he ready right now? I don’t know. I’ve never seen the guy on the field. There’s other really good candidates who can play there, probably not to the level he can. At the conclusion of this camp, what’s the right thing to do then? That’s what we have to decide.”

— Carrie Muskat

2/20 Extra bases

Some notes on the first day Cubs pitchers and catchers worked out:

* Jon Lester threw a side session, and naturally, David Ross was his catcher, as he was with the Red Sox. Lester said he can tell the Cubs are hungry to win.

“You can see they want it, they want to win,” Lester said. “Now it’s just a matter of getting our work in and trying to do that.”

He knows all about the angst of long-suffering Cubs fans. Remember, Lester pitched for the Red Sox. His goal is to be prepared, and if he is, he can handle anything. And he’s not thinking about the contract, which was the largest in Cubs history.

“My contract doesn’t justify me or represent me,” Lester said. “I represent myself and how I go about my business. My competitiveness doesn’t change because I have x-amount of dollars in the bank. I want to win, you’ll hear that a lot. If I don’t win, we don’t win, and you probably really don’t want to be around me too much. I’m not real happy — you can talk to my wife about that.”

* Joe Maddon talked to the players for about half an hour before the first workout. He didn’t post a long list of rules. Maddon doesn’t care if players have long hair or how they wear their socks. He used to have long hair and said he was proud of it. He did admit he can’t grow a beard.

* MLB issued rules regarding the pace of the game in hopes to speed it up.

“I respect what the commissioner is attempting to do in Major League Baseball in general,” Maddon said. “I will just check [the rules] out, play good in the sandbox and make it work.”

* The Cubs have hired renowned sports psychologist Dr. Ken Ravizza as a consultant. Maddon has known him since the ’80s.

“Here’s the thing about sports psychologists that people get confused with — people see it as being a weakness,” Maddon said. “Right away, ‘This guy wants a sports psychologist, he must be weak.’ That’s the furthest thing from the truth. To me, it’s just another coach, another skill. We have hitting coaches, we have pitching coaches, we have infield coaches, we have coaches for everything. The mental skills coach really can help you develop a routine that causes you to step out of the batter’s box or get off the rubber or take that little extra moment in order to recapture the thought process and slow things down.”

* On Friday, Maddon donned his third different Major League uniform.

“Honestly, I was more comfortable than I thought I would be,” Maddon said.

* Who’s in the mix at third base? Mike Olt and Kris Bryant. There could be more.

“I’m really big into multiple positions,” Maddon said.

That means fans will likely see players moving around in camp.

— Carrie Muskat

2/19 Theo on Bryant

Could Kris Bryant be the Cubs’ Opening Day third baseman? It’s possible.

“Anyone in camp can make the team — that’s why they’re here,” Theo Epstein said Thursday.

Bryant, who batted .325, belted 43 home runs and drove in 110 runs at Double-A and Triple-A combined last season to earn Minor League Player of the Year honors, has said his goal is to make the decision hard on the Cubs front office. There is the question of when the Cubs want to start Bryant’s service time clock.

When Epstein meets with the 23-year-old infielder prior to the start of camp, Bryant will hear what he needs to do.

“In Kris’ case, we see him as really, really close to the big leagues,” Epstein said Thursday. “He’s a really talented player and had a phenomenal year last year. When we sit down with the players, we also identify the areas where they need to continue to work. It won’t be news to Kris — he has an individualized player plan the way all our players do.”

One area the Cubs want to see improvement is Bryant’s defense at third base. He’s been working on it. Since he arrived in Mesa — well before Tuesday’s report date for position players — Bryant has been taking grounders at third on a half field.

“He’s coming to camp to work, he’s a great kid, he’s here early — no surprise there,” Epstein said. “We love everything about him. He’s got his work ahead of him. We’ll see where we are at the end of Spring Training.”

— Carrie Muskat

2/18 Bryant focuses on what he can control

Kris Bryant knows how close he is to the big leagues. The Cubs’ top prospect also is well aware that his Major League debut could be delayed if the front office decides it wants to delay the clock from starting regarding Bryant’s service time.

“I think I have a pretty good grasp of [service time issue] but I don’t look into it at all,” Bryant said Wednesday after a round of batting practice at the Cubs’ complex in Mesa, Ariz. “I don’t make those decisions, I make the decisions on the field for me and how hard I play and that’s all I can control.”

Cubs fans are giddy at the prospect of Bryant, 23, at third base on Opening Day after he batted .325, hit 43 home runs and drove in 110 runs at Double-A and Triple-A combined. His goal is to make the decision tough on the Cubs front office.

“That’s all I can say and that’s all I can do,” he said.

— Carrie Muskat

2/16 Early birds


Several Cubs players are in Mesa, Ariz., and working out in preparation for Spring Training. Pitchers and catchers report Thursday with the first workout on Friday. Here, Matt Szczur, Kris Bryant, Rafael Lopez, and Addison Russell prep for some batting practice at newly named Sloan Park on Monday.

— Carrie Muskat

2/6 Cubs non-roster invitees

The Cubs have invited the following 19 non-roster players to Major League Spring Training, which begins next Thursday when pitchers and catchers report in advance of the first formal workout on Feb. 20 in Mesa, Ariz.

Here’s the breakdown:

RHPs: Daniel Bard, Corey Black, Anthony Carter, Jorge De Leon, Pierce Johnson, Armando Rivero and Donn Roach

LHPs: Francisley Bueno and Hunter Cervenka

Infielders: Kris Bryant, Jonathan Herrera, Addison Russell, Chris Valaika and Logan Watkins (injured).

Outfielders: Albert Almora, Mike Baxter and Adron Chambers.

Catchers: Kyle Schwarber and Taylor Teagarden.

Position players are to report Feb. 24 with Joe Maddon’s first full squad workout scheduled for Feb. 25.

1/26 Salutes to Mr. Cub

Just in case you missed it, some current Cubs, future Cubs and past Cubs shared their feelings about Ernie Banks on Twitter:

* Anthony Rizzo:

“Mr Cub. What you have done for the game of baseball the city of Chicago and everyone you have touched will never be forgotten. RIP”

* Kris Bryant:

“RIP Mr. Cub. What he accomplished on and off the field is truly amazing. I’m honored ot wear the same uniform as him. #LetsPlayTwo”

* Joe Maddon:

“Never met Ernie, but heavily feel the loss … uniquely lived life … will always wish I had … my sympathies to the Banks family”

* Justin Grimm:

“R.I.P. Mr. Cub Ernie Banks! It was a pleasure to shake the hand of a Hall of Famer and a wonderful man to have around the clubhouse!”

* Darnell McDonald:

“Mr. Cub had the ability to instantly make you feel like a lifelong friend when you met. HOF person. #ThankYou #Salute”

* John Baker:

“Talk about star struck, try walking by [Banks’] statue on your way to work, then shaking the hand of the man. #MrCub”

* Sammy Sosa

“I wanted to express my sincere condolences to the family and fans of #mrcub, the legendary, #ErnieBanks. He was the first African-American to play for the Chicago Cubs paving the way for many future baseball players like myself. Rest in peace. #chicagocubs”

1/19 Too early to put Bryant in lineup

With Luis Valbuena headed to Houston, that leaves an void at third base but Cubs GM Jed Hoyer says it’s too early to write Kris Bryant’s name in the lineup for Opening Day. Cubs fans are giddy at the prospect of Bryant, 23, the Minor League Player of the Year, playing at Wrigley Field. In his second season as a pro in 2014, Bryant batted .325 with 43 home runs and 110 RBIs at Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa. Hoyer said they didn’t deal Valbuena to make room for Bryant.

“It’s totally independent,” Hoyer said. “Kris’ development is independent of any move we made today. We have a number of guys who will be working at third [this spring].”

The list includes Mike Olt, Tommy La Stella, and possibly Arismendy Alcantara. Javier Baez also could get some playing time there, although he’s projected to start at second base for the Cubs. Baez was currently playing winter ball in Puerto Rico.

Bryant has moved up quickly in the Cubs system.

“When Kris is ready, when we think he’s ready to come up to the big leagues, we’ll make that decision but certainly trading Valbuena will not speed up that clock at all,” Hoyer said. “It’s all dependent on Kris.”

— Carrie Muskat

12/8 Winter meetings notebook

* Cubs GM Jed Hoyer said Monday they try to ignore the rapid-fire rumors generated at the Winter Meetings.

“We try to condition ourselves as much as we can, especially this week of all weeks, to ignore that,” Hoyer said. “You don’t know what’s information and what’s misinformation. I’d be lying to say we don’t read it because you do want to sift through it and see what’s going on. To rely on it or let your emotions go up and down based on what’s happening down [in the lobby] doesn’t make a lot of sense. We’ve all seen people be massively wrong on stuff like that.”

That didn’t stop others from talking about Jon Lester, including Athletics GM Billy Beane, who acquired the pitcher at the Trade Deadline.

“Like Arthur Miller being briefly married to Marilyn Monroe, that’s who we are,” Beane said. “We’re the Arthur Miller in Lester’s career.”

Lester has been the hot topic at the Winter Meetings and the left-hander could make a decision by Tuesday, which would allow the rest of baseball the opportunity to move on. Hoyer, though, didn’t think Lester was holding up any other transactions.

“People talk about that, but at the same time, there’s a lot of players available,” Hoyer said. “The idea that one or two or three people hold up a market, I don’t necessarily believe in that. … You’ve seen enough deals to indicate there’s not a logjam.”

* Think about it: The Cubs have reportedly signed Jason Hammel to a two-year contract on the same day the Athletics traded Jeff Samardzija to the White Sox. On July 4, the Cubs dealt Hammel and Samardzija to the A’s.

* Cubs prospect Kris Bryant was picking up more awards on Monday, capping his stellar 2014 season. Hoyer wasn’t worried that Bryant would not be motivated this offseason.

“He’s a guy, his work ethic, his make up is so good, I’m sure he’s going to build off what he did last year, which is what any competitor would do,” Hoyer said.

Expect to see Bryant in the outfield in Spring Training. Manager Joe Maddon likes versatile players and Anthony Rizzo is probably the only one on the Cubs roster who won’t be asked to play multiple positions.

“We’re lucky,” Hoyer said. “A lot of our guys can move around. … I think Joe does a really good job of convincing guys and explaining to guys why it’s beneficial. He had success with that in Tampa and I think he’ll have success with that with us.”

Bryant did play center field in college.

— Carrie Muskat


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