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Friday, May 24, 2019

Kris Bryant

Kris Bryant offers promising quote after Cubs sweep

Kris Bryant

The Chicago Cubs are really starting to get things going, and Kris Bryant is too.

Bryant put the exclamation point on a Chicago Cubs weekend sweep of the St Louis Cardinals with an 8th-inning grand slam on Sunday that put the Cubs up 13-2. He’s homered three times since April 26 and has 11 RBIs in the eight-game span.

After Sunday’s 13-5 win, Bryant said he’s feeling “really good” at the plate and hitting the ball hard, according to ESPN’s Jesse Rogers.

Bryant hasn’t exactly opened the season on fire. Instead, he’s hitting .243, though his OPS is .820. Last year he was bothered by a shoulder injury that many ascribed to his drop in power. If he’s starting to see the ball well and feeling good at the plate as he says, that means he could start regaining his MVP form.

The team is already getting great hitting from Willson Contreras, Javy Baez and Jason Heyward, with David Bote swinging a nice bat as well. The starters are pitching well too. If Bryant starts crushing the ball again, the Cubs could have enough to run away with the division.

Kris Bryant blasts MLB’s service time manipulation

Kris Bryant

In 2015, Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant spent the first two weeks of the season in the minors so that the team could manipulate his service time and get an extra year of control. The same tactic is being used on the likes of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Eloy Jimenez now, and Bryant wants to see it changed.

Bryant called the current service time rule exploitation “awful” and said it wasn’t fair to players who work out all offseason and have impressive springs, only to be sent down for the extra year of control.

“I had a killer spring training,” Bryant said of 2015, via Sahadev Sharma of The Athletic. “And I purposely had a great spring training because I went into the offseason, I started earlier, I started the machine earlier. I was working pitches down and away, sliders down and away, velocity off the machine, just so I’m ready when the first game comes. And I was. It was frustrating. But I was down those two weeks and I knew what day I would come up. I don’t know. It’s funny how obvious it can be.

“It was so obvious. I think they’re going to do it to (Vladimir Guerrero, Jr.). ‘Oh, he’s gotta work on his defense.’ Stuff like that. But now I can look back on it and just laugh about it because I was told to work on my defense too and I think I got three groundballs in those games that I played. So it’s like, ‘Oh, now he’s ready.'”

Bryant added that he was “infuriated” by how teams and the league itself hype up prospects on Twitter, only for them to be sent to the minors until the requisite date arrives.

“Stop promoting the guy if you know exactly what’s going to happen,” Bryant said. “It’s a total money grab on everybody’s side. You’re putting the kid in a tough situation too. He’s seeing all this stuff. He’s kind of getting excited about it because, ‘Oh, MLB’s posting stuff about me!’ But at the end of spring training, he’s probably not going to be in the major leagues until that certain date. I totally feel for them. I can see how it’s going to hurt them.”

Players have definitely noticed, and there was talk of one of them filing a grievance against his team over their refusal to call him up. Ultimately, though, this is one of many issues that can only be addressed in the next CBA negotiation.

Kris Bryant motivated by criticism after down season

Kris Bryant

Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant endured a lot of criticism for a poor 2018, and he’s using it to fuel him going forward.

Bryant said Saturday that he had heard the criticism lobbed at him in a year that saw him hit .272 with 13 home runs while being bothered by a nagging shoulder problem. He added that such criticism motivates him to avoid a repeat performance.

“Definitely, a little bit,” Bryant said, via Jesse Rogers of ESPN. “But, boy, it was great. When you’re not playing, you have a whole lot of time to just sit there and either go through a Twitter rabbit hole and start seeing things about yourself, or seeing things about ‘trade him’ and this and that.

“And I’m like, ‘All right, I’m motivated. Keep ’em coming. Bring it.'”

Bryant says he is healthy to begin 2019. That should help him get back to where he was in his first three seasons, where he hit .288 and averaged over 30 home runs per year.

Kris Bryant confirms he has recovered from shoulder problem

Kris Bryant

Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant spent a lot of 2018 hindered by a shoulder problem, but that is now behind him.

Bryant said Monday that his shoulder is fully healthy and he is back to his normal swing after battling issues last season.

Bryant missed a lot of time with that shoulder injury that just kept lingering even as he tried to come back from it. It affected his output as well. He hit .272 with 13 home runs in 102 games, and hopes to be much better and fully healthy in 2019.

Yadier Molina hits out at Kris Bryant for calling St. Louis ‘boring’

Yadier Molina

The rivalry between the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals is alive and well, even though it’s only January.

Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant called the city of St. Louis “boring” at his team’s fanfest on Friday. That got a quick retort from Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina, who said “only stupid players and losers” make such comments.

Molina has never been shy about firing back at perceived disrespect. Bryant looked to be having a little bit of fun with his comments in front of a partisan crowd, but the Cardinal catcher is taking them completely seriously. The rivalry won’t be boring in 2019, if nothing else.

Kris Bryant: Bryce Harper will not join Cubs

Kris Bryant

While it was not exactly a secret, one of Bryce Harper’s closest friends in baseball made it pretty clear that the two wouldn’t be playing together next season.

Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant said Harper wouldn’t be signing with the Chicago Cubs this offseason despite some rumors during 2018 that such a union was on the table.

Bryant and Harper grew up in Las Vegas together and played on the same Little League team, sparking rumors that the two would like to pair up. That may be true, but Bryant would know if Harper was coming, and he’s ruled it out just as definitively as his manager has. Harper’s ultimate destination remains a mystery, but the Cubs appear to be completely out.

Kris Bryant reportedly turned down huge extension from Cubs

Kris Bryant

Kris Bryant isn’t particularly close to free agency, but that didn’t stop the Chicago Cubs from trying to lock him down long-term.

According to NBC Sports Chicago’s David Kaplan via Brett Taylor of Bleacher Nation, Bryant was offered a long-term extension “well north of $200 million”, but he and agent Scott Boras declined, preferring to go through the arbitration process.

It’s an interesting decision for the Cubs, if true. Bryant just finished his first arbitation year and is under team control through 2021, so he can pretty safely play things out. The Cubs were clearly aiming to buy out his arbitration years and lock him down well into his 30s. Bryant is taking a risk by declining, but a calculated one, as he stands to earn a lot more if he stays healthy and keeps producing for another three seasons. The health was a bit of a scare at times in 2018, but he looks poised for a rebound year in 2019.