Cubs

Kris Bryant in the outfield opens up options for Cubs

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Kris Bryant in the outfield opens up options for Cubs

SAN FRANCISCO – In what might be a Rookie of the Year season, Kris Bryant has shown surprising speed for a 6-foot-5 slugger and better-than-expected defense at third base.

Bryant wants to be known as a complete player. He’s demonstrated an unselfish attitude and remarkable poise for someone who’s basically had a target on his back from the moment he reported to spring training.

[RELATED - Cubs go outside the box with Kyle Schwarber at leadoff]

Moving Bryant to the outfield could open up even more options for the Cubs. Joe Maddon is a manager who loves versatility, playing matchups and getting creative.

Bryant made his first start in right field during Thursday’s 9-1 loss to the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park. With center fielder Dexter Fowler banged up – and possibly unavailable against Clayton Kershaw on Friday at Dodger Stadium – Maddon moved the pieces around again. 

“A little weird,” Bryant said at his locker after the game. “I felt like I went back on some balls where I should have (gone) in first, but I made all the plays.

“Wherever they want me to play, I’ll play. I’m a baseball player. I’m not a third baseman or (just) a hitter. I’m willing to do whatever.”

It’s hard to see the Cubs doing something that would move the needle like benching Starlin Castro and making Addison Russell their everyday shortstop.

But occasionally shifting Bryant to the outfield makes sense if the Cubs believe Javier Baez will strengthen their infield defense once he’s called up from Triple-A Iowa. Maddon also wants Chris Coghlan’s left-handed bat in the lineup against right-handed pitchers.

“KB runs well,” Maddon said. “I know that KB has not played there a lot. But he’s very comfortable out there and I’m very comfortable with him being out there. I know it looks awkward from the distance. But internally it’s not that bad.”

What if Castro gets hot and proves he belongs at second base? When will Jorge Soler recover from a strained oblique muscle – those injuries are always tricky – and be ready to return to right field?

[MORE CUBS: Cubs counting on Kyle Hendricks in the stretch run]

Bryant – who has already started games in center and left and played some outfield at the University of San Diego – could become an answer.

Bryant began the day with 20 homers, leading all big-league rookies in RBI (77), on-base percentage (.368), slugging percentage (.482), OPS (.850) and runs scored (71).

Maybe an offensive force could also become a defensive asset.

“There’s other ways he can (become part of the outfield),” Maddon said. “Just to try to get different bats involved against certain pitchers. You know I’m not opposed to trying to do any of that stuff. And the fact that he is so amenable and comfortable with it makes it a lot easier.”

Podcast: In light of recent hitting coach turmoil, who’s to blame for Cubs offensive struggles?

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USA TODAY

Podcast: In light of recent hitting coach turmoil, who’s to blame for Cubs offensive struggles?

On the latest Cubs Talk Podcast, David Kaplan, Kelly Crull, Luke Stuckmeyer and Tony Andracki discuss the comments Chili Davis made after being fired as Cubs hitting coach, ask if the Cubs struggles on offense were Davis' fault or the players and what Anthony Iapoce will be walking into as he tries to gets the team back on track a the plate.

 

Listen to the entire podcast here, or in the embedded player below:

 

Texas Rangers hire Cubs' Shiraz Rehman to be assistant GM

Texas Rangers hire Cubs' Shiraz Rehman to be assistant GM

The changing of the guard continues for the Cubs this offseason. 

After the team hired a new hitting coach yesterday, it was reported today that they're losing a front office member: 

Rehman, who has been with the Cubs in the same position for the last seven years, will reportedly head up the Rangers' analytics department. According to the Chicago Tribune, Rehman's role was " evaluating existing systems, and recognizing and applying solutions in an effort to create competitive advantages for the organization." 

All reports indicate that he'll be doing similar analytic-based work with the Rangers.