Cubs

Cubs: The wait for Kris Bryant could be almost over

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Cubs: The wait for Kris Bryant could be almost over

Adidas put Kris Bryant’s image on a billboard across the street from the Wrigley Field marquee, promising the mega-prospect will be “WORTH THE WAIT.”

It’s almost over. The Cubs have already crossed off nine of the 12 days needed to delay Bryant’s free agency until after the 2021 season, and injuries at the major-league level could help spring the third baseman from Triple-A Iowa.

If Tommy La Stella’s “side” injury lingers, and Mike Olt’s wrist doesn’t respond, could we see Bryant sooner rather than later?

“Maybe, yeah, we’ll see,” team president Theo Epstein said before Monday’s game against the Cincinnati Reds. “We’ll just weigh all the factors.”

[RELATED - Kris Bryant tracker: Counting down the days until Chicago]

This doesn’t mean the Cubs will have Bryant’s big bat in the middle of their lineup on Tuesday night, but it does create a potential opening for this weekend’s series against the San Diego Padres at Clark and Addison.

Ideally, the Cubs would like a big-time prospect to debut on the road, in a less-pressurized environment, away from the Wrigleyville fishbowl. That’s why people around the team have pointed to next week’s trip to Pittsburgh and Cincinnati as a logical spot for Bryant’s arrival.

La Stella is still feeling sore and getting treatment, and the Cubs have been fuzzy with the details. By the time Joe Maddon met reporters for his daily media session, the manager didn’t know if La Stella would be available to pinch-hit that night. After Monday’s game, the Cubs planned to discuss how long they could ride out the infielder’s injury.

The Cubs also scratched Olt from Monday’s lineup as he recovers from the 96-mph fastball that drilled his right wrist on Saturday night at Coors Field. As the Opening Day third baseman fell to the ground in the ninth inning of a victory over the Colorado Rockies, Twitter lit up with Bryant speculation.

“We’ll see,” Epstein said. “Obviously, his development is a hugely important factor, and then the needs of the big-league team, as well.”

[SHOP: Gear up, Cubs fans]

Would Bryant first have to work on his outfield defense at Iowa before getting called up?

“It depends on the circumstances,” Epstein said.

Bryant put up 43 homers, 110 RBI and a 1.098 OPS during his first full season in professional baseball last year. He rode that momentum into the Cactus League, hitting .425 with nine homers in 40 at-bats and becoming arguably the most talked-about player in baseball.

In an age of overhyping prospects, Bryant is as close to ready as you’re going to find. He hasn’t lost focus at Iowa, hitting .381 with two homers through five games. 

Ever since the Cubs drafted Bryant No. 2 overall out of the University of San Diego in 2013, team officials have raved about his work ethic, emotional maturity and sense for being a good teammate.

“(I’ve said) that his performance, obviously last year, and then even during spring training, showed that he’s really close,” Epstein said. “And that we’re probably more likely to get him sooner rather than later. It just started, though. We’re trying to get him into a good rhythm down there.”

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 30th homer in 1998

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 30th homer in 1998

It's the 20th anniversary of the Summer of Sammy, when Sosa and Mark McGwire went toe-to-toe in one of the most exciting seasons in American sports history chasing after Roger Maris' home run record. All year, we're going to go homer-by-homer on Sosa's 66 longballs, with highlights and info about each. Enjoy.

Sosa hit the 30-homer threshold on June 21, 1998 in only his 71st game of the season. For perspective, the 2018 Cubs leader in homers on June 21 is Javy Baez with 14 and Mike Trout leads all of baseball with only 23.

At this point, Mark McGwire was ahead of Sosa, but the Cubs slugger was pulling closer. McGwire had 33 dingers on June 21 while Ken Griffey Jr. had 28 and Greg Vaughn had 25.

Sosa' June 21 homer came off Tyler Green and was his 5th blast of the series against the Philadelphia Phillies at Wrigley Field that year. But the Cubs lost that series, despite Sosa's efforts.

Fun fact: Sosa drove in 10 runs in the three-game series with the Phillies that summer while the rest of his teammates combined for only 9 RBI.

Podcast: Wild week at Wrigley wraps up with Cubs showing what they’re made of

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AP

Podcast: Wild week at Wrigley wraps up with Cubs showing what they’re made of

The Cubs have been a different team the last six weeks, looking a lot more like the resilient bunch from 2016 than the sluggish 2017 squad that lacked energy. After some wacky circumstances Monday and a tough loss in Game 1 of Tuesday’s doubleheader, the Cubs came out and showed what they’re made of in the last two games of the series against the Dodgers, a team that knocked them out of postseason play last fall.

Kelly Crull and Tony Andracki sum up the longest short homestand (or shortest long homestand?), updating the status of Yu Darvish, Brandon Morrow, the Cubs pitching staff and how the team is rounding into form as the season’s halfway mark approaches.

Check out the entire podcast here: