Cubs

Cubs: Kris Bryant wants to keep the surprises coming in playoffs

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Cubs: Kris Bryant wants to keep the surprises coming in playoffs

PITTSBURGH — Forget the one-year-too-early storylines. Don't pay much attention to the "rookie" tag on Kris Bryant.

When it comes down to it, Bryant and the Cubs believe it doesn't matter how young or inexperienced they are once they step in between the foul lines.

Bryant has completely lived up to the all-world hype that surrounded him in the minor leagues and spring training.

The Cubs have completely lived up to Joe Maddon's playoff talk at his introductory press conference at The Cubby Bear last November.

The Cubs even came close to backing up Anthony Rizzo's division guarantee over the winter, forcing the St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates to win 100 and 98 games, respectively.

[MORE CUBS: Kris Bryant’s Rookie of the Year season is just the beginning for Cubs]

Now Bryant and Co. want to carry that over into the postseason.

"We've proved some people wrong and kind of surprised some people," Bryant said. "Hopefully we can do that in the playoffs."

Wednesday night's one-game wild-card playoff will be the first taste of the postseason for most of the Cubs players ... and not just the rookies.

Jake Arrieta will get the start having never pitched in the playoffs while Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro figure to help anchor a lineup in their inaugural trip to the postseason.

"You dream of this as a little kid," Bryant said. "When I was growing up, I didn't watch too much of the regular season.

"But when the postseason came on, it was just a completely different atmosphere. It almost had a different feel just watching it on TV. I'm excited to experience that for the first time."

[MORE CUBS: Everybody loves Kris: Cubs' Bryant has the league's top-selling jersey]

Bryant is very even-keeled and doesn't ever seem to let the moment get too big for him.

The soon-to-be National League Rookie of the Year said this wild-card showdown with the Pirates is "just another baseball game" and said he won't be nervous, just a little "overly excited" if anything.

Bryant may be penciled in Wednesday's lineup in left field at PNC Park. The natural third baseman has played all three outfield spots this season and gotten some time at first base, proving his reputation as a team player focused solely on winning.

It's hard to envision the 23-year-old slugger as a rookie when he says all the right things and makes adjustments almost instantly.

During the final weekend of the regular season, while the Cubs were in Milwaukee, Bryant went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts Saturday. The simple assessment was that he was expanding the zone and swinging at bad pitches.

[SHOP CUBS: Get your Cubs postseason gear right here]  

So the next day, in Game 162, Bryant adjusted and instead took three walks. Two of those free passes came with a runner in scoring position and his stat card showing 99 RBI.

But instead of expanding the zone and trying to make something happen for that milestone 100th RBI, Bryant just took what the Brewers gave him.

"It's just second nature to me to resort back to that kind of approach," Bryant said Tuesday before the Cubs' wild-card workout. "I don't want to be a selfish player. Obviously I could have swung and got another chance, but I've never been that type of player.

"I don't want to start bad habits. I don't want to swing at a pitch out of the zone because maybe that makes me swing at a pitch out of the zone in [Wednesday's] game and this game is the important one that matters.

"I was more than happy to take my walks there and jog down to first."

That sounds like a guy with the No. 1-selling jersey in Major League Baseball, not a rookie putting the finishing touches on his first big-league season.

Reds pitcher Amir Garrett apparently held a grudge against Javy Baez for a year

Reds pitcher Amir Garrett apparently held a grudge against Javy Baez for a year

Baseball players don't forget grudges. Javy Baez and Reds pitcher Amir Garrett gave an example of that on Saturday.

Garrett struck out Baez in the seventh inning of the first game of the Cubs-Reds doubleheader. Garrett showed some excitement with the strikeout and then said something to Baez. They both started jawing at each other and suddenly the benches cleared.

At first glance, it looked like Garrett was a bit too excited to get a strikeout with no one on base. Turns out Baez had his own bit of swag for Garrett last year (Friday was the one-year anniversary) in the form of a grand slam at Wrigley Field.

This time Garrett got Baez and wanted to even things up a bit.

Things didn't get too feisty despite the benches clearing, but Anthony Rizzo did rush to Baez's side at some speed. This could be a matchup to keep an eye out for in the future.

Cubs Talk Podcast: The greatest Cubs moments at Great American Ballpark

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: The greatest Cubs moments at Great American Ballpark

Siera Santos, Kelly Crull, and David DeJesus go into the audio archives to break down the biggest games for the Cubs in Cincinnati.

David DeJesus gives us his top 3 ballgames with such gems as The Schwarber Game, The Kris Bryant Game, Starlin Castro’s debut, and Jake Arrieta’s second no hitter.

Listen to the full Cubs Talk Podcast right here: