The Kris Bryant debate continued Friday the day after the top prospect in the game made his debut in left field on National TV. Theo Epstein addressed the Kris Bryant question with one of his former players, Curt Schilling during Thursday’s broadcast.
Theo Epstein pointed out again during his 13 years of making baseball decisions for an organization that a player has not made his big league debut on Opening Day, the only exceptions have been players that were selected in the Rule 5 Draft and Daisuke Matsuzaka. Epstein prefers to bring a player up after the season has begun and they’ve had a chance to get into a rhythm in the minors.
Kris Bryant enjoyed playing in the outfield Thursday night. In his discussion with the beat writers Friday, Bryant was asked about what Epstein said about a rookie not making his debut under his watch on Opening Day, Bryant’s response, “I look at it as why not me? I think I’m the type of guy who can go out there and do it. I’ve made it a point of mine to show them I can.”
Theo Epstein stressed Friday there hasn’t been a decision made yet on where Kris Bryant will start the season. But he did admit to the Tribune, that when he saw Bryant playing in the outfield at the University of San Diego he reminded him of Jayson Werth. Epstein sees Bryant as a third baseman, “especially for most of this season and the most likely outcome is that he’ll be playing a lot of third base.”
Wrigley Field and the Players
Wrigley Field is Under Cubstruction, at least that’s what signs all over the park are going to say when the old ballyard at the Corner of Sheffield and Waveland hosts the first game of the season next Sunday night.
Phase One of The 1060 Project is behind schedule, the left field bleachers will not be open until May and it’s looking like at least June for right field. The left field video board is expected to be operational in eight days but as of Friday, construction crews were still working on the structure that will house the video board.
Theo Epstein and the Cubs’ brass have addressed the ongoing construction with the players. The Cubs have been in the state of the art facility in Mesa for the last two months, and in some cases, for the better part of the calendar year. Beginning next week, the players will also have to deal with Wrigley Field as the 101-year old facility receives a long-overdue, much needed upgrade and facelift.
In an interview on ESPN 1000, Epstein explained what he has said to the players.
Epstein emphasized that this time next year the Cubs will have the second largest clubhouse in baseball (Yankee Stadium) that will provide the players with “every advantage in the world.”
Epstein asked the players to be patient through the construction. For example, the Cubs are working on a solution for the players to have a place to park, but he told them if they start to get frustrated to remember to “keep in mind there’s a means to an end.”
News, News and Rumors
• The Sun-Times pointed out the Cubs are part of one of the toughest divisions in baseball. The NL Central “has produced five of the last seven NL MVPs, two of the last three NL home run champs, four of the last six league leaders in innings pitched and five of the last seven NL wild card teams. Every team in the division not name the Chicago Cubs have qualified for the playoffs within the last four years.” Joe Maddon welcomes the challenge of managing a team in the NL Central and wouldn’t have it any other way according to reports from the Sun-Times and ESPN.
• Theo Epstein said there is not a double standard in the Kris Bryant and Javier Baez decisions.
• Jon Paul Morosi explained the difference between the White Sox starting the season with Carlos Rodon in the rotation and the Cubs beginning the year with Kris Bryant on the roster. The Sox could still manipulate the service clock in their favor without losing Rodon for an extended period of time.
• Former Cubs’ closer RHP Rafael Dolis, who is now in the Tigers’ organization, was assigned to minor league camp.
• From the Tribune, Kris Bryant on facing Jered Weaver on Thursday night: “Incredible stuff. He’s a different type of pitcher. It was good for me to go out and struggle a little bit and see what he’s going to throw me and learn from it. He changes speeds. You think you have him timed up and you’re swinging early on it, and the ball moves out of the zone and he’s got a good slow curve. He knows how to pitch. He moves the ball in and out, up and down. He’s there for a reason. I enjoyed facing him. I enjoyed the struggle. You got to embrace the struggle when you are going through it, and I learned from it.”
• Jeff Samardzija talked about his start against the Cubs. And ESPN Chicago reported that Friday’s matchup between the Cubs and White Sox was “just an appetizer for the main event.” Jason Hammel and Jeff Samardzija squared off against one another and both pitchers pointed out the Cubs’ offense is feast or famine right now. Hammel and Samardzija are good friends, Hammel is hoping the two get to face each other in the World Series.
• Ron Santo was named to the WGN Radio Walk of Fame according to a report from Robert Feder.
• When asked about “the fan repercussions” involving Edwin Jackson, Epstein said, “If he pitches well, I think he’ll be received well. If he doesn’t pitch well, he won’t be received well. That’s the way it should be. Next question.”
• According to Jeff Passan, Major League Baseball and the MLBPA is expected to discuss the idea of a draft combine in the upcoming CBA negotiations.
• Jon Heyman reported 19-year old Cuban RHP Yadier Alvarez is drawing interest from several teams. The Dodgers, Nationals, Blue Jays, Rangers, Phillies, Cardinals, Twins and Giants are among the clubs Heyman reported as having interest in the flame-thrower.
• RHP Jordan Zimmermann gave the Nationals until Opening Day to sign him to a contract extension … and it’s not likely a deal is going to get done. Zimmermann is headed for free agency, and if he does hit the market, the Cubs will be in the mix for the top of the rotation starter next off-season.
• The Cubs continue to be a source of concern for the St. Louis media.
• Weather watch: The Cubs last day in the Cactus League (Wednesday, April 1) the forecast is calling for bright sunshine with a high of 91 degrees. Opening Night at Wrigley (Sunday, April 5) Tom Skilling is saying there is a 20 percent chance of rain with a high of 45 dipping to 40 degrees under the lights.
And, last but not least, a little known pitcher named Sidd Finch burst onto the scene 30 years ago today.
This Day In Cubstory
2006 – Cubs traded Todd Wellemeyer to the Marlins for Lincoln Holdzkom and Zach McCormack
2003 – Cubs released Charles Gipson
2001 – Cubs traded Eric Hinske to the Athletics for Miguel Cairo
1999 – Cubs traded John Cotton and Kevin Rawitzer to the Rockies for a PTBNL. Colorado sent Tarrik Brock to the Cubs on July 7, 1999 to complete the trade
1997 – Cubs released Kevin Tolar
1995 – Carson Sands, born
1993 – Cubs released Steve Lyons
1989 – Cubs released Rich Gossage
1989 – Cubs released Al Nipper
1988 – Ryan Kalish, born
1981 – Cubs traded Dennis Lamp to the White Sox for Ken Kravec
1979 – Cubs released Mike Sember
1975 – Julio Zuleta, born
1969 – Cubs purchased Charley Smith from the Giants
1967 – Shawn Boskie, born
1963 – Cubs sent Dave Gerard and Danny Murphy to the Colt .45’s for Hal Haydel, Dick LeMay and Merritt Ranew
1957 – Buddy Bailey, born
1940 – San Francisco (Pacific Coast League) purchased Al Epperly from the Cubs
1909 – Lon Warneke, born