It's never easy to hit a homer when everyone in the ballpark wants you to do it, but that's exactly what Kris Bryant was able to do Sunday in his first game with the Giants at Oracle Park.
Bryant, who came to the Giants in a trade from the Chicago Cubs ahead of the 1 p.m. PT deadline on Friday, had heard the chatter about two of his former teammates, Anthony Rizzo and Javier Baez, both hitting homers in their debuts with their new teams.
The pressure was on Bryant to match Rizzo (New York Yankees) and Baez (New York Mets).
In his first at-bat, Bryant struck out, but in his second at-bat against Houston Astros starter Luis Garcia, Bryant came through, lining a ball that just got over the short left field wall for a 366-foot homer into the bleachers.
"I couldn't have not joined the group," Bryant said on Summer Sunday moments after the Giants beat the Astros 5-3. "The media was asking me before the game if I felt any pressure to hit a home run. I said I didn't, but I kinda did a little bit, so I'm glad I was able to deliver."
Per Stats Perform, Bryant, Rizzo and Baez are the first trio of players to play for one team during a season and then all homer in their first games with their new teams that same season.
Giants players knew what was on the line if Bryant didn't homer in his first game with the team, and made sure to joke with him about it.
"It was pretty cool," first baseman Darin Ruf told reporters after the game. "We were saying that his other teammates that got traded all homered in their first games as well, so we were going to send him back if he didn't homer himself. So luckily we get to keep him. I think he's going to be very, very valuable to our team moving forward."
When reporters asked starter Logan Webb about his first impression of Bryant and the homer he hit, a big smile appeared on the pitcher's face.
"Oh, it was awesome," Webb said. "You kinda knew he was going to hit a home run just because of Javier Baez and Rizzo doing it also. He was super excited and we're super excited. He's a great dude and I'm excited. Just excited to have him here."
Bryant did the rounds with the media after the game, so he hadn't had much time to look at his phone to see if Rizzo and Baez or any other former Cubs teammates were reaching out, but he figured they were when he sat down for an 11-minute press conference.
"I don't know," Bryant said. "My phone is vibrating non-stop in my pocket right now. They're busy doing their thing too with their new teams and I'm proud to have played with them and shared a lot of special moments with them and it's been really cool to see them hit homers in their first games. And for me to join them too, it feels really special for all of us."
Bryant, Rizzo and Baez will be connected forever for ending the Cubs' 108-year World Series drought in 2016, and now the three Cubs icons will be linked for what they were able to accomplish in their respective first games after being traded away from Chicago.