Cubs

GIF: Addison Russell hits first Cubs home run before Kris Bryant

addison-russell-hr-0501.png

GIF: Addison Russell hits first Cubs home run before Kris Bryant

Kris Bryant hit 55 home runs in 181 minor league games. Addison Russell hit 38 home runs 244 minor league games.

Who do you think was first to hit their first big league blast?

Of course, the unexpected happened Friday, with Russell beating Bryant to the milestone against the Brewers at Wrigley Field.

Not only has Bryant's prodigious power been talked about since the minute the Cubs drafted him in 2013, but he also had five more major league games on Russell heading into Friday's afternoon tilt.

[MORE CUBS: Javier Baez getting back in the swing of things in Triple-A]

But it was Russell who was first to smack his first major league roundtripper, a solo shot in the bottom of the third that landed in the under-construction bleachers in left-center field.

Take a look:

[SHOP CUBS: Get your Cubs gear right here]

Of course, some enterprising Cubs fan made the leap into the active construction zone to retrieve the ball, though the Cubs wound up with the ball and will give it to Russell as a keepsake.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon gave Russell the day off Wednesday after the rookie had been struggling some at the plate. With Thursday's off-day, that gave Russell back-to-back days where he could hit the reset button and get his head back on track. The move seemed to work, as Maddon felt the 21-year-old looked more at ease at the plate - "I thought his approach today was outstanding."

 

Bryant is still without a homer at the major league level, though that's expected to change any time now. But for the moment, Russell has bragging rights on his fellow rookie infielder.

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

bryant_thumb.jpg
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

Subscribe:

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

steven_souza.jpg
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.