Cubs move Kris Bryant to center field after Dexter Fowler's injury


Cubs move Kris Bryant to center field after Dexter Fowler's injury

PITTSBURGH — Now playing center field ... Kris Bryant?

At 6-foot-5, Bryant doesn’t exactly look the part. The Cubs also believe he has a strong arm and enough athleticism to be able to stick at third base, where his monster offensive projections would create so much value.

The thinking is you keep him there for as long as you can. But Dexter Fowler’s injury and some late-game maneuvering forced the Cubs to tap into Bryant’s versatility during Wednesday’s 4-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Bryant had been exposed to center field at the University of San Diego, where he developed into the No. 2 overall pick in the 2013 draft.

But could you handle it for an extended run?

“Yeah, why not?” Bryant said. “I probably played there five games in college. I actually like center a lot better than the other two, just because you don’t have to deal with the hooks of a righty smashing one down the left-field line or a lefty smashing one down the right-field line.”

[SHOP CUBS: Get a Kris Bryant jersey right here]

On a night where snow swept through PNC Park, the Cubs played it safe with Fowler, who left the game with right groin tightness. Fowler didn’t know if he would be able to play on Thursday, but he also didn’t think it would be a serious lingering issue.

“It’s more a precaution than anything on a cold day,” Fowler said. “We’ll see how it feels when I wake up in the morning.”

Fowler led off the game with a bunt single and immediately felt something in the first inning. Fowler made the turn when the throw sailed wide of Pirates first baseman Pedro Alvarez. Fowler then had to scramble back to the base when the ball didn’t bounce far enough to allow him to take second. The tightness didn’t stop Fowler from stealing the base moments later.

But the Cubs decided to have Chris Denorfia pinch-hit for Fowler in the third inning. Bench coach Dave Martinez later asked Bryant where he felt comfortable in the outfield. Bryant took over center in the eighth inning, and of course the first batter (Neil Walker) hit it right to him.

Nothing seems to faze Bryant, who handled this with the same attitude that’s helped him deal with all the great expectations and nonstop attention that comes with his mega-prospect status.

“It was cool out there — center field’s fun,” Bryant said. “If you’re kind of getting used to the outfield, it’s a good spot to get some flyballs in, just to read it off the bat.”

Baseball Prospectus takes shot at Addison Russell in their latest annual

Baseball Prospectus takes shot at Addison Russell in their latest annual

Addison Russell is no longer with the Cubs and he hasn’t yet found a new home in baseball, but he hasn’t escaped being on the receiving end of some tough shots.

Baseball Prospectus, which produces a book each year with team and player capsules, breakdowns and projections, took such a shot. Their blurb for Russell is short and direct.

“The 24-hour national domestic violence hotline number is 800-799-7233.”

Russell was infamously suspended for domestic abuse late in 2018. He returned to the Cubs in 2019, but was not tendered a contract after the season, making him a free agent.

Russell hasn’t found a new landing place with spring training already underway. With this still hanging over his head, it’s no secret as to why.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Chicago Cubs easily on your device.

Cubs Talk Podcast: What will David Ross' impact on the Cubs be like in 2020?


Cubs Talk Podcast: What will David Ross' impact on the Cubs be like in 2020?

As new manager David Ross takes over for Joe Maddon, he intends to tweak the culture of the Cubs and set his own mark on the team. Jeff Nelson is joined by Outside the Ivy and Bleacher Nation's Michael Cerami to discuss what kind of impact David Ross will have on the 2020 Cubs, what should be expected from the pitching staff and bullpen, and the uncertainty of who plays in the outfield.

(1:36) - What does Ross' impact look like?

(8:28) - Concerns with the pitching staff

(16:00) - Will Craig Kimbrel be better this year?

(20:00) - Will Kris Bryant have enough rope to get used to leading off?

(25:05) - Who do you trust to play the outfield every day?

Listen here or in the embedded player below.

Cubs Talk Podcast