Cubs

Cubs won’t overload Kris Bryant with too much information

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Cubs won’t overload Kris Bryant with too much information

Now that Kris Bryant is finally here at Clark and Addison, he has far more resources at his disposal than he had while working his way through the minor leagues or at the University of San Diego.

There are hours of video on every pitcher he’ll face. The scouting reports on a guy like Andrew Casher, the former Cubs right-hander who’s starting Sunday for the Padres, are extensively detailed. Anyone with a smartphone can go to FanGraphs and pull up pitch selection percentages and strike zone heat maps.

Manager Joe Maddon cautioned against giving major league greenhorns like Bryant too much information, though, saying all a hitter like him needs is a “nugget or two” every now and then.

[MORE: Kris Bryant bounces back at the plate in second career game]

“I don’t think the information coming to the hitters really benefits hitters a whole lot whether it’s video, data, audio, whatever,” Maddon said. “There are so few things you can tell a hitter. Approach wise, maybe get them to narrow their focus, keep their fastball swing loaded as an example. But all of this wonderful information available to the hitters, I think really doesn’t help them a whole lot.”

Bryant said he likes having more video to watch to give him a better idea of what he might face in a certain count. But he's limiting his video watching to just opposing pitchers.

“I don’t like to watch my at bats,” Bryant said. “I kinda go over them in my head, but when you start over-analyzing your video you’re thinking about everything you’re doing wrong with your swing when half the time it’s not really your swing, it’s what you’re swinging at and what you’re thinking up there. I like to see what the pitcher throws and go with it from there.”

Bryant has already showcased his resiliency at the major league level, following up a three-strikeout debut with two hits and three walks in six plate appearances against San Diego on Saturday. There are plenty of opportunities for over-analysis in the major leagues, but all Bryant said he did was realize that he’d never see a fastball if he kept swinging at all the offspeed pitches thrown at him.

[NBC SPORTS SHOP: Buy a Kris Bryant jersey]

That wasn’t an intricate adjustment, which is exactly what Maddon hoped to see from his 23-year-old third baseman. The first-year Cubs manager is fine with veterans gathering and synthesizing information, though for him there is such thing as a young player having too much knowledge.

But information can become a problem for a rookie “Only if you give it to them,” Maddon smiled.

“Don’t give it to them. Don’t make it complicated. That’s the whole thing.”

Yu Darvish thinks Houston Astros should be stripped of 2017 World Series title

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USA Today

Yu Darvish thinks Houston Astros should be stripped of 2017 World Series title

The Astros' sign-stealing scandal is personal for a lot of players, though it probably hits a little differently for Yu Darvish. 

Darvish was a member of the 2017 Los Angeles Dodgers team that Houston beat in the World Series. Darvish didn't have his best performance in the series and when asked about the scandal, the Cubs' pitcher didn't hold back:

It's a weird feeling. Like, in the Olympics, when a player cheats, you can't have a Gold medal, right? But they still have as World Series title. That makes me feel weird. That's it. And one more thing. With [Carlos] Correra talking about [Cody] Bellinger. I saw that yesterday. So they cheat, and I think right now that they don't have to talk. They shouldn't talk like that right now.

You can watch the video of Darvish's comments, from ESPN's Jesse Rogers, it right here.

The comments took on a life of their own, as Astros' soundbytes have been known to do over the last few weeks or so. Darvish was ready for the clapback, though, and delivered a final blow to some poor 'Stros fan who thought he could compete with Darvish on twitter dot com. 

Sign a lifetime contract, Yu. Never leave us.

Related: Bryant crushes Astros for cheating scandal: 'What a disgrace that was' 

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Jason Kipnis comes home looking to write one final chapter of his career

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USA TODAY

Jason Kipnis comes home looking to write one final chapter of his career

Jason Kipnis, who’s potentially the Cubs’ new second baseman but indisputably the pride of Northbrook, said there’s one major reason why his possible reunion with Wrigley Field is so exciting.

“Now I don’t have to hate the 'Go Cubs Go' song,” he quipped.

Kipnis was a late addition to the Cubs’ roster, and still not even a guaranteed one at that. After almost a decade spent being one of the Cleveland Indians’ cornerstones, Kipnis arrived in Mesa on a minor league contract, looking to win a job. Ironically, being with his hometown team is unfamiliar territory for the two-time All-Star. 

“[Leaving Cleveland] was hard at first,” he said. “You get used to the same place for 9-10 years, and I think it’s a little hard right now coming in and being the new guy and being lost and not knowing where to go. But it’ll be fun. It’s exciting. It’s kind of out of the comfort zone again, which is kind of what you want right now – to be uncomfortable. I don’t know, I’ve missed this feeling a little bit, so it’ll be good.”

It was a slow offseason for the second baseman, but the second baseman said he was weighing offers from several teams. Opportunity and organizational direction dictated most of his decision-making, but Kipnis admitted the forces around him were all, rather unsubtly, pulling him in one direction.

“They were telling me to take a deal, take a cut, whatever. Just get here,” he joked. “... It made sense, it really did. I think I didn't fully understand it until it was announced and my phone started blowing up and I realized just how many people this impacted around my life. Friends and family still live in Chicago, so it’s going to be exciting.”

The theme of renewed motivation has hung around Sloan Park like an early-morning Arizona chill, and Kipnis said part of the reason he feels the Cubs brought him in is to set a fire under some guys. He talked with Anthony Rizzo during the offseason, who talked about how the Cubs had struggled at times to put an appropriate emphasis on each of the 162 games in a regular season. That’s not a new problem in baseball, and it struck a chord with Kipnis, who himself was on plenty of talented Cleveland teams that never got over the hump. 

“They got a good core here. I’m well aware of that, they’re well aware of that, too,” he said. “I texted him and called him and asked him what happened last year, because I look at rosters, I look at St. Louis’, I look at all that, and I’m like, ‘I still would take your guys' roster.’” 

As for his direct competition, Kipnis said he hasn’t had a chance to really get to know Nico Hoerner yet, but doesn’t feel like the battle for second base has to be a contentious one by any means. At 32, Kipnis has been around long enough to understand the dynamics an aging veteran vs. a top prospect, and doesn't feel like it’s a situation where only one of them will end up benefiting. 

“I know he came up and had a pretty good success, so I think [it’s] going to be a competition, but at the same time, I’m not going to try to put him down,” he said. “I’d like to work with him, kind of teach him what I know too and hopefully both of us become better from it.”