With all the openers, the built in off days and the Kris Bryant Watch out of the way, it’s time for the Cubs to get into the routine of the season and just focus on the game.
The Cubs do not have another scheduled day off until April 30. After the two remaining games with the Padres, the Cubs hit the road for a seven-game, two city trip. When Maddon’s men return from Cincinnati, the Cubs wrap up the month with three against the Pirates.
Nine games into the season the Cubs are 5-4 and injuries have been a big story for the Cubs over the first two weeks of the season.
Justin Grimm and Neil Ramirez have both landed on the DL with right shoulder inflammation and their absence was felt Friday when Wil Meyers cranked the three-run homer to center field off Brian Schlitter.
Offensively, the Cubs have received very little from the bottom of Maddon’s lineups. Players such as Arismendy Alcantara and Miguel Montero simply have to step it up.
This team has been both extremely entertaining and frustrating over the first two week of games. And that is to be expected with a group of players and a manager as they learn how to play, and more importantly win games together.
The top prospect in the system made his debut Friday. And while it didn’t go as everyone hoped at the plate, Kris Bryant looked very good in the field. Bryant handled every routine play and several that were anything but grounders to third base.
Kris Bryant made just as many headlines after the game as he made before his Major League debut. Here are several of the links from the countless reports that were posted Friday:
• Bob Nightengale: Kris Bryant has Absolute Blast in Cubs Debut
• ESPN Chicago: No Big Splash, But Kris Bryant Gets Feet Wet
• ESPN Chicago: Kris Bryant Shows He’s Human, But His Journey is Just Beginning
• Bruce Levine: Kris Bryant Debut a Success, Despite Some Failure
• Comcast SportsNet: Unforgettable Father-Son Moment for Mike and Kris Bryant
• Chicago Tribune: Kris Bryant Feels No Pressure
• Carrie Muskat: Bryant Arrives Sooner Than Expected
• San Diego Union-Tribune: James Shields thinks Bryant is going to be just fine
Notes from Friday’s Press Conferences
Theo Epstein, Joe Maddon and Kris Bryant each met with the media prior to Bryant’s big league debut. Here are a few of the highlights from the three press conferences:
• Theo Epstein: Cubs would not have called up Kris Bryant today if not for the injury to Mike Olt, prefer to debut prospects on the road.
• Theo Epstein: Most important is the Cubs winning the game. Nice for Kris Bryant to make his debut for a first place team.
• Theo Epstein: Timing wasn’t perfect for call-up would have preferred to wait for Bryant to make debut on road.
• Theo Epstein: Feel comfortable with Bryant in outfield. Bryant has a chance to stay at third base for a long time.
• Joe Maddon: Talked to Bryant about playing outfield in the spring. Bryant likes playing outfield, can see him playing outfield, intriguing to see if he can nail down third base.
• Joe Maddon: Bryant repeated Maddon’s saying to him Friday morning, “Don’t ever permit the pressure to exceed the pleasure.”
• Joe Maddon: Wanted Bryant to enjoy the day with the understanding that moving forward “it’s about all of us.”
• Kris Bryant: Called his mother first when he learned he was being called up, father was giving hitting lessons. His father cried, “I’ve never seen my dad cry before.”
• Kris Bryant: “There is no pressure in this game. You let pressure creep in, you’re not having fun.”
News, Notes and Rumors
• Cubs first base coach Brandon Hyde received his new number on Friday, No. 16. Hyde wore No. 17 before Kris Bryant’s arrival.
• Welington Castillo and David Ross took grounders at third base before Friday’s game. And speaking of backups, with Mike Olt on the DL the Cubs do not have a backup for Anthony Rizzo at first base on the big league roster.
• The Cubs received good news on RHP Neil Ramirez. The MRI Ramirez had Thursday revearled no structural damage. Ramirez was placed on the DL with inflammation in his right shoulder.
• RHP Justin Grimm is rehabbing in Arizona and doing well. Theo Epstein said Friday that Grimm is getting close to throwing a bullpen.
And last, but not least … from Christopher Kamka: Kris Bryant became the 122nd different starting third baseman for the Cubs since Ron Santo’s last game on Oct. 1, 1973.
This Day In Cubstory
2011 – Previous waiver selection of Brian Schlitter by the New York Yankees was voided and Schlitter was returned to the Cubs.
1984 – Marco Mateo, born
1983 – Alberto Gonzalez, born
1983 – Mike Parisi, born
1962 – Ernie Banks hit his 300th home run off Turk Farrell in the 10th inning to beat the Houston Colt .45s 3-2. Dick Ellsworth picked up the win in the Cubs’ first victory of the season at Wrigley Field.
1959 – Rich Bordi, born
1945 – Mike Paul, born
1930 – Lon Warneke made his Cubs debut in the sixth inning. Warneke was charged with two hits, five walks and five runs in the Cubs 11-1 loss to the Cardinals. Wild Bill Hallahan allowed just two hits for St. Louis.
1905 – Mal Moss, born
1898 – The Chicago Orphans loaded George Decker to the St. Louis Browns
1873 – Danny Friend, born
1869 – George Borchers, born