Kris Bryant hasn’t swung a bat in a Cactus League game since Monday, but he remains the talk of Cubs camp and baseball.
Bryant responded to Scott Boras’ comments Wednesday. Bryant admitted he likes being represented by Boras and called him a “bulldog.” Bryant explained Boras works for him and he would rather be represented by a bulldog than a poodle.
Bryant has a lot of respect for Tom Ricketts, Cubs management and wants nothing more than to help bring a World Series title to the Cubs. Bryant said the Cubs have been great to him from day one. His dream has always been to play in the big leagues and he would like to do so as soon as possible.
Apparently teammates and coaches have told Bryant they want him to be with the Cubs from day one this season. And was under the impression he had a chance to win a spot on the team in Spring Training. Bryant took it to heart and reported to camp with a chip on his shoulder.
Joe Maddon talked to Bryant and he admitted to the beat writers that he is going to impact the Cubs this season. Maddon said he told Bryant he “has to be patient with his playing time this spring and the regular season.” He would like for Bryant to focus on preparing for the season while not letting the distraction of where he may or may not be playing get in the way.
Maddon compared the situation with Bryant to Evan Longoria and he thinks has the experience to help Bryant. Maddon assured the beat writers Bryant is fine, he handled the conversation well and he’s not concerned about him.
As for the comments Scott Boras made Tuesday, Maddon said that’s Boras’ job. Maddon added, “Scorpions bite, that’s what they’re supposed to do. Whatever your nature, that’s what you’re supposed to do.”
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As Buster Olney pointed out, the history that Scott Boras has of taking his clients to free agency influences the decisions teams make with his players.
Kris Bryant is expected to be the Cubs’ designated hitter in the ‘B Game’ at Sloan Park on Thursday against the Angels. Bryant will test his shoulder at that time. If all goes well, Bryant could be back at third base by the weekend.
Joe Maddon’s Post-Game Tweet
Shortly after the Cubs wrapped up the 7-5 victory over the Dodgers, Joe Maddon tweeted, “Really pleased with ZD game … strong situation hitting early. Addison and Albert using oppo gap … Pitchers great job maintaining lead.”
Daniel Bard is on the pitching schedule for Thursday’s ‘B Game’ against the Angels at Sloan Park. Bard has reportedly been impressive in simulated games this spring, throwing all three of his pitches for strikes to lefties and righties while sitting between 95-98 mph with his fastball.
Daniel Bard was once one of the top relievers in baseball and the Cubs surrounded him with a familiar face in Mike Cather, Iowa’s new pitching coach, this spring. Cather was able to get Bard on track once and the two have a really good relationship.
If the Cubs are able to get Bard over the yips, another power arm with the experience in the bullpen for a team expected to win could pay big dividends this year. As good as the young arms were last season, predicting a reliever’s performance from year to year is nearly impossible. And Daniel Bard could give them another option.
An update was finally provided on Dallas Beeler, and the Cubs’ starting pitching depth has taken another hit. Beeler has not pitched in a Cactus League game due to tightness in his shoulder.
According to the Tribune, Beeler is not sure when he will pitch in a game. Beeler has been throwing bullpens, but that’s all to this point. Beeler told Mark Gonzales he is building up his arm strength and getting his arm “back in shape.” Beeler said it’s “10 times better now.”
With Jacob Turner out of the picture for at least a month and Tsuyoshi Wada’s status unknown, the competition for the fifth spot is between Travis Wood, Edwin Jackson, Felix Doubront and Eric Jokisch. Unless Wood is traded, he will begin the season as the fifth starter in Joe Maddon’s rotation.
Albert Almora received a surprise start for the Cubs on Wednesday in Glendale and he responded with a 2-for-3 performance at the plate that included two doubles, two runs scored and two RBI. Almora appears much more confident this spring and has played well in the Cactus League.
Almora is 6-for-17 in 13 games with three doubles, a walk and two strikeouts for a .353/.389/.529 slash line with a .918 OPS. Almora is in camp on a non-roster invite and should be assigned to minor league camp in the next round of spring roster cuts. Albert Almora is ticketed to begin the season as the Smokies’ starting centerfielder.
News, Notes and Rumors
• Matt Szczur was a late scratch from Wednesday’s game in Glendale. Szczur was in the starting lineup, playing center field and hitting fifth in the lineup. Szczur was given the day off at the last minute to allow him more time to heal after crashing into the fence during Tuesday’s game at Sloan Park. Szczur, like the rest of us, is day to day.
• Jake Arrieta told the beat writers following Wednesday’s game that he “had a few slight issues which affected his performance.” Arrieta was hit around pretty good and was not able to recover after falling behind in the count he said. Arrieta explained he struggled with consistency with his delivery that “fell off a little bit to the glove side” and his release point needs to be better.
• Keith Law did not like what he saw from Kyle Schwarber behind the plate over the last two innings of the game against the Royals. Law stated Schwarber may have a special bat, but what he saw confirmed what those outside of the Cubs organization have said, it’s doubtful he’ll be a catcher in the big leagues.
• The Marlins locked up one of the best young players in the game. Multiple reports indicated Wednesday that OF Christian Yelich agreed to terms on a seven-year, $49.57 million contract. According to Jim Bowden, the deal includes a $15 million option for 2022 with a $1.25 million buyout on the option and tax equalization language.
• Bovada released lines for prop bets that include several post-season awards Wednesday. Jon Lester is 20-to-1 to win the NL Cy Young Award and Jake Arrieta is at 50-to-1. Anthony Rizzo is 14-to-1 odds to lead the league in homers, 20-to-1 to be the NL MVP and Kris Bryant is at 25-to-1 odds to lead the NL in home runs this season.
And last, but not least, drone footage of Wrigley Field before and during the restoration and expansion project …
This Day In Cubstory
2002 – Cubs acquired Winston Abreu from the Padres for Keto Anderson
1984 – Cubs released Ferguson Jenkins the day after he announced his retirement from baseball
1977 – David Ross, born
1965 – Cubs radio announcer Jack Quinlan died in a car accident returning from a golf outing during Spring Training.
1955 – Phillies purchased Dave Cole from the Cubs
1947 – Garry Jestadt, born
1931 – Paul Smith, born
1927 – Richie Ashburn, born