CHICAGO -- For the first time since the trade deadline, Gabe Kapler has his full starting lineup on the field against a right-handed pitcher. That's particularly important for the player who will be the biggest story at Wrigley Field all weekend.
With Evan Longoria at third base, Kris Bryant shifted to left field for his return to Chicago, and he couldn't be happier about it.
This is just Bryant's fifth appearance in left for the Giants since the trade, but it allows him to more closely interact with Cubs fans in the bleachers and also to relax a bit more during what will be a very emotional day. During a lengthy session with a huge crowd of Chicago reporters on Friday, Bryant said he was "super pumped" when he saw he would be in the outfield.
"Before I got traded it was super cool hearing them talk to me nonstop out there," he said of the fans in the bleachers. "It gives me more time between pitches to digest certain things, to digest your at-bats. Today I'll be digesting what I'm hearing out there."
It is sure to be 100 percent positive. The Cubs were preparing to celebrate Bryant's return all day, with a tribute video planned for some point during the game. Bryant got a standing ovation from the early arrivers when lineups were announced and dropped his head and laughed as he chatted with former teammate David Bote.
The fans who got to Wrigley Field in time for batting practice went heavy on the Bryant jerseys and signs. One explained how her son was a Bryant fan first and foremost, and after the trade she had to buy him Giants gear:
Bryant had a wide smile on his face throughout his pregame activities, and he said it was fun having a day off in Chicago on Thursday. He has told himself to enjoy every bit of this weekend.
"I'm not the best at soaking up big moments, but I hope I can find a way to take it all in," he said.