Cubs

Cubs: Unforgettable father-son moment for Mike and Kris Bryant

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Cubs: Unforgettable father-son moment for Mike and Kris Bryant

The Cubs gave Mike and Kris Bryant an unforgettable father-son moment.

The emotions overwhelmed Mike on Thursday night when he heard the Cubs promoted Kris to The Show. Mike found out while giving a hitting lesson, sharing the ideas he learned from Ted Williams while playing minor-league ball for the Boston Red Sox, teaching what Kris absorbed so naturally as a kid.

While the Bryant family took a red-eye flight from Las Vegas – Mike couldn’t remember the last time he pulled an all-nighter – Kris left the Triple-A Iowa team in New Orleans to pursue their dream.

“I shed a few tears,” Mike said Friday at Wrigley Field. “My heart got heavy. I feel like I’m listening to a Tim McGraw or a Justin Moore country song. When they make you cry, that’s when you know they got you.”

Mike held court with reporters near the on-deck circle during batting practice as Bruce Springsteen’s “Glory Days” blasted out of the old ballpark’s new sound system.

The Red Sox selected Mike in the ninth round of the 1980 draft out of UMass Lowell. He lasted two seasons, moved his family to Las Vegas and eventually sold his furniture business so he could spend more time coaching his kids.

Kris would grow up with a batting cage at his house and become a baseball gym rat. Another one of Mike’s students – Joey Gallo – is a power-hitting third baseman in the Texas Rangers organization and Baseball America’s No. 6 prospect heading into this season.

[RELATED: No bad blood between Cubs and Kris Bryant over service-time issue]

The memories came rushing back to Mike, how he hid out on a beach in Florida after the Red Sox cut him, the moments when he realized Kris had what it takes to play in the big leagues. Mike thought of what this would have meant to his parents as he spoke on the phone with his sister, Karen, on Thursday night.

“That’s what really hit me,” Mike said. “My sister (was) crying so hard. She visited both my mom and dad’s grave. It was 11 o’clock at night back in Massachusetts. She went over there and she called me when she got back. How deep is that right there?”

Mike then did the Sammy Sosa routine, blowing a kiss and looking up to the sky.

“That’s how deep that is,” Mike said.

[NBC SHOP: Get your Kris Bryant jersey right here!]

Mike is outgoing where Kris is reserved. Adidas gear covered Mike, who wore a blue polo shirt, black sweats and gray sneakers. The father has a bald head, a gray goatee and a big personality that embraces the “WORTH THE WAIT” billboard on Addison Street.

“For someone with less character, it would go to their head,” Mike said. “But you can see me – I’m kind of an animated guy. I brought my kid up to not be me. Because who wouldn’t like attention, right? Well, Kris walks that middle ground better than anybody.”

That balance of supreme confidence, emotional stability and just enough modesty explains why the Cubs believe Kris will be able to live up to the hype. An 0-for-4 afternoon with three strikeouts during a 5-4 loss to the San Diego Padres won’t change his DNA.

“He’s respectful,” Mike said. “He knows he has an obligation to speak to his fans through (the media). Just to see him handle that like an adult at 23 years old – with all these expectations on him – (is so impressive). I hope he hits four home runs. If he punches out four times, he’s going to be the same (guy) tomorrow.”

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Cubs Talk Podcast: Is Kris Bryant the new Curt Flood?

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Is Kris Bryant the new Curt Flood?

This has been the offseason of Kris Bryant rumors and with his grievance still unresolved Cubs fans can only speculate what will happen to the MVP. Is Kris Bryant trying to change the system like Curt Flood did? Host David Kaplan is joined by ESPN Chicago's Jesse Rogers to discuss Bryant's future as a Cub, and the lackluster offseason the Cubs have had.

(1:50) - Why the Cubs have not made any moves so far

(3:32) - Is Kris Bryant the new Curt Flood?

(6:26) - Cubs need upgrades, specifically in the bullpen

(9:10) - Will the Cubs make a big move before the season starts?

(11:30) - Does Javy Baez get the big extension?

(14:45) - Will the Cubs get to 86 wins this year?

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below:

Cubs Talk Podcast

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Cubs close to deal with free agent outfielder Steven Souza, per report

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USA TODAY

Cubs close to deal with free agent outfielder Steven Souza, per report

The Cubs have made a roster move.

According to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, the Cubs are reportedly close to a deal with free agent outfielder Steven Souza.

Souza, 30, missed the 2019 season after suffering a torn left ACL and LCL at the end of spring training. He also missed a chunk of 2018, playing 72 games while hitting the injured list on multiple occasions.

Souza had a career year with the Rays in 2017, slashing .239/.351/.459 with 30 home runs, 78 RBIs and a 121 wRC+. Those figures were career-bests for Souza, minus his batting average. He sported a walk rate (13.6 percent) above league average (8.5) that season, though his strikeout rate (29 percent) was worse than the MLB average (23).

The signing of Souza likely rules out a return of fan favorite outfielder Nicholas Castellanos. The Cubs have been linked to Castellanos throughout the offseason, but since they're looking to stay under MLB’s luxury tax threshold, re-signing Castellanos would require some financial maneuvering.

Souza has spent most of his career in right field (3,608 career innings) but has minimal experience playing center (33 1/3) and left (20). He’s above average in right (career 6 Defensive Runs Saved) and posted a career best 7 DRS in 2017.

The Cubs have a five-time Gold Glove right fielder in Jason Heyward, so Souza will see time at all three outfield spots. Heyward moved to center full-time last season after the Cubs acquired Castellanos and has played center at times throughout his career.

Assuming he stays healthy, Souza is a low-risk, high-reward move for the Cubs. He’ll add power to the middle of the order and add a proven bat to an outfield with some question marks. Albert Almora Jr. and Ian Happ have each struggled offensively at times since 2018. Souza offers another bat in case those two slump again.