Kris Bryant's major league debut had everybody freaking out.
While most were simply giddy with excitement over the arrival of baseball's top prospect on the North Side, some panicked after just one day of results — or rather lack thereof — at the plate. Bryant went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts in his first big league game.
While a few might have lamented that the sky was falling, Bryant preached taking it easy. It was just one day.
That message proved fortuitous after his second major league game, in which he went 2-for-3 with a pair of singles, an RBI and three walks.
Yes, Bryant reached base five times after his less-than-ideal debut, certainly quelling any worries that he's anything but as advertised.
“Everybody’s looking for hits all the time. We always look for good at-bats, being a good decision-maker. He was that today," manager Joe Maddon said after the Cubs' 7-6, extra-inning victory over the visiting San Diego Padres. "And then he gets the big knock — broken bat, we’ll take it — against a really tough right-handed pitcher.
"I think the fans, the folks that really watch closely, they understand the importance of accepting your walk. … I think after yesterday, it was kind of engrained in his mind that, ‘I’m not going to do that again.’ He had some really good at-bats. He went 0-2 to 4-2 one at-bat, and that’s spectacular.”
Bryant reached via the walk in his first two plate appearances Saturday before collecting his first major league hit: a broken-bat blooper to shallow center field, a hit that drove in a run to tie the game at 2 in the fifth. Another walk came later on, and he was right in the middle of the game-winning rally in the bottom of the 11th, busting down the first-base line to hustle out an infield single. Two batters later, Starlin Castro delivered the walk-off winner.
It was as refreshing a sign as Cubs fans could have imagined following what happened Friday.
[SHOP CUBS: Get a Kris Bryant jersey right here]
No one was really worried that an 0-for-4 debut was some kind of gloomy omen for what's expected to be a promising career. But take it from someone who's been under the North Side microscope before, getting off to a good start certainly helps.
“It’s not easy for him on the first day. Millions of people waiting for you, it’s not easy," Castro said. "He did a great job today. He took three walks and then two basehits, it’s awesome.
“It’s a really good game for him. I think he got his confidence back because he got a hit. When you come up first in the big leagues, you get a hit right away, you can have your confidence right away. Now he’ll be really better.”
The bottom line is, as it seemingly always is, that the baseball season is a long one. One day doesn't matter too much in the grand scheme of a season and especially not in the grand scheme of a career, of which Bryant's is just two days old. Day 2 went much better at the plate than Day 1 did. The Cubs are expecting many more of those good days from Bryant from here on out.
“He did a really good job," catcher Miguel Montero said. "Obviously we know he’s got talent, we just need to take a little bit of pressure off his shoulders. He’s still a young kid, and he’s got all the talent in the world. He’s going to be good. We just need to ask you guys to leave it alone a little bit. Let him have fun out there. But yeah, he did an amazing job. He took three walks, and we all know he can hit. So obviously we’re not worried about him.”