It finally happened Thursday. The Cubs put Kris Bryant in the outfield during a Cactus League game, a move the Cubs’ brass talked about making throughout the off-season.
Kris Bryant made his first start in left field Thursday night. Bryant handled the routine plays, tracked down a double and completed an inning ending double play with Javier Baez in the sixth.
According to a report from Comcast SportsNet, the Cubs “really don’t know what position Bryant will play in The Show.” Bryant was drafted as a third baseman, has worked hard on his defense and would like to stay at the hot corner. But those in the game have questioned if Bryant, due to his size, can be an everyday third baseman in the majors.
Bryant has more than enough arm and is very athletic, but he has limited range and trouble getting down on balls. Joe Maddon downplayed Bryant’s height as being a reason for him not playing third base. Maddon pointed to Cal Ripken Jr. and Alex Rodriguez being pretty tall and Troy Glaus “was very tall and very good.”
Maddon isn’t concerned about a player’s height at a certain position. He focuses on the player’s foot work and his arm. Maddon has liked what he’s seen from Bryant at third base.
The Sun-Times reported that Maddon still sees Bryant as a third baseman, but “wants him to be prepared for both spots.” And during Thursday’s ESPN broadcast, Maddon said, “I think he could be a good player at either position.”
ESPN Chicago reported Thursday if Mike Olt can produce at the plate when the season starts and grab the job the Cubs tried to give him last year, Bryant could play left field when he makes his big league debut. Olt has looked good at third base this spring and appears to have the shoulder issues under control that slowed him last spring.
Mike Olt really looks more comfortable at the plate and in the field this spring. Olt is 10-for-36 with a double, a triple, three home runs, seven walks and 13 strikeouts (.278/.395/.611) for a 1.006 OPS. And he’s made several highlight-reel type plays at third base. Olt has also moved across the diamond to first base but he’s not seen any time in the outfield during a Cactus League game.
Even with the 0-for-4 night at the plate that included three strikeouts, all looking, Kris Bryant is 13-for-32 in the Cactus League with two doubles, nine home runs, four walks and 11 strikeouts (.406/.472/1.313) for a 1.785 OPS in 12 games. And the three strikeouts had nothing to do with Bryant playing the outfield for the first time, each called third strike was rather questionable and could have gone the other way.
While the front office is saying publicly the Cubs view Kris Bryant as a third baseman, it was rather interesting timing that he saw his first time in the outfield with less than 10 games left in the exhibition season.
Kris Bryant said he enjoyed playing the outfield and that he’s willing to do what the Cubs want him to do.
The front office would like the players to be versatile in the field and to be able to play multiple positions. Kris Bryant could end up as the Cubs everyday third baseman or as the team’s left fielder/third baseman once he’s promoted. But for now, it appears the Cubs are undecided on which position Kris Bryant will play and will use the next month to figure it out.
- Full Report from Comcast SportsNet
- Full Report from the Sun-Times
- Full Report from ESPN Chicago
- Full Report from Carrie Muskat