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Kris Bryant Watch can wait after Cubs complete dramatic comeback win

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Kris Bryant Watch can wait after Cubs complete dramatic comeback win

DENVER — There’s always some sort of drama around this team.

That’s how one Cubs employee accurately summed it up before Sunday’s 6-5 comeback victory over the Colorado Rockies in front of 41,363 at Coors Field.

Dexter Fowler changed the mood with one swing in the ninth inning, launching a two-out, two-run homer beyond the right-field wall and into the second deck. LaTroy Hawkins — who was a guest at Fowler’s wedding a couple of years ago — had been one strike away from ending the game.

Fowler crushed Hawkins’ slider/cutter and got some revenge against his old team. Kris Bryant Watch can wait. The Cubs swear they’re not even paying attention.

[MORE CUBS: Can Jon Lester slow down Billy Hamilton?]

The Cubs left Denver to return home to the Wrigley Field construction zone, where the business-operations side had to bring in 72 porta-potties last week after the Opening Night bathroom lines became a national embarrassment.

It took less than five innings before the Boston/Bristol axis of media had Chicago reporters asking if Jon Lester has “the yips,” one start into a six-year, $155 million megadeal. It won’t get any easier with Cincinnati Reds speedster Billy Hamilton up next.

Bryant is still the trending topic, with the franchise’s hottest name and arguably most dangerous hitter stuck at Triple-A Iowa. Cubs fans will have to wait at least four more days as Bryant does his service-time penance before making his debut in The Show.

“That’s for them to keep talking about,” Fowler said. “That’s social media, man.”

[MORE CUBS: It's up to the union to change Cubs/Kris Bryant situation]

Bryant homered again during Iowa’s 7-2 win on Sunday at Memphis. As ex-Cubs manager Dale Sveum once said: “Those twits never lie.”

New Cubs manager Joe Maddon, who has 227,000 Twitter followers, made it sound like he didn’t know Bryant homered on Saturday night until a reporter mentioned it during his media session.

“Nice,” Maddon said. “Good for him.”

Maddon had to worry about Mike Olt, who got drilled in the wrist with a 96-mph fastball the night before but felt good enough to pinch-hit on Sunday afternoon. Tommy La Stella — another guy in the third-base mix until Bryant arrives — was unavailable with a strained “side” injury the Cubs left pretty vague.

“I don’t really pay attention to any of that (Bryant) stuff,” Maddon said. “I’ve talked about it before: My responsibility is the people right here, right now, and trying to piece it together.”

[MORE CUBS: Cubs see Dexter Fowler becoming the catalyst for their offense]

Maddon keeps stressing the idea that this isn’t about any one person, whether it’s Baseball America’s No. 1 prospect (Bryant) or a $52 million pitcher going to the bullpen (Edwin Jackson) or a No. 3 catcher waiting his turn (Welington Castillo).

The Cubs had been 0-79 when trailing entering the ninth inning in 2014. Castillo delivered a clutch two-out, pinch-hit RBI single in the ninth, setting the stage for Fowler’s heroics. Four relievers — Jason Motte, Phil Coke, Neil Ramirez and Hector Rondon — combined for 4 2/3 scoreless innings to bail out Kyle Hendricks and shut down the Rockies (4-2).

“Honestly, I don’t think we win this last year,” Hendricks said. “(It’s) just the confidence factor, all the new guys coming in here with the winning attitude, the winning ways. These guys know how to win. And it just showed right there. I think there’s going to be a lot of those this year.”

The Cubs (3-2) hadn’t been above .500 since April 4, 2013. They were also a game over .500 by late April 2011. They never had a winning record at any point during the 2010, 2012 and 2014 seasons.

[SHOP CUBS: Get your Cubs gear right here]

But as another Cubs person pointed out: It’s never boring around here. Bryant as the headliner — and all the great expectations surrounding this team now — guarantees that.

“I’m really not paying attention to that,” catcher Miguel Montero said. “I’m paying attention to what we have right here. I know the kid is good. Don’t get me wrong. We’d like to see him in the big leagues. But right now, he’s not.

“I’ve got to care about these guys right now, because ... we got to get the best out of this (group). It’s not that I’m not rooting for him right now, but he’s not here. I can’t really focus on Double-A, Triple-A. I can’t be wasting energy on that.”

Bryant who?

“It was entirely a team victory,” Maddon said. “Our pitchers did a wonderful job of not caving in. And our offense did a wonderful job of just not giving up.

“I love when you win that kind of game, on the road, utilizing everybody. It’s really good for esprit de corps.”

Report: Giants interested in Cubs first base coach Will Venable for manager opening

Report: Giants interested in Cubs first base coach Will Venable for manager opening

The Giants' search for a successor to now-retired manager Bruce Bochy has led them to the North Side.

According to NBC Sports Bay Area's Alex Pavlovic, the Giants are interested in Cubs first base coach Will Venable for their own managerial opening. San Francisco's interest is intriguing, as Venable went to high school just outside San Francisco in nearby San Rafael. His father — Max Venable — played for the Giants from 1979-83. 

Venable also interviewed for the Cubs' manager job earlier this month, telling the Chicago Sun-Times that his interest is in the "organization in general." He is one of several internal candidates for the Cubs' job, along with bench coach Mark Loretta and front office assistant David Ross.

The Cubs also interviewed Joe Girardi and are set to meet with Astros bench coach Joe Espada and former Phillies manager Gabe Kapler.

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Former Cub Mark Prior likely to take over as Dodgers pitching coach in 2020

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USA TODAY

Former Cub Mark Prior likely to take over as Dodgers pitching coach in 2020

Mark Prior's big-league playing career unfortunately fizzled out due to recurring injury woes, but he's making a name for himself in the coaching realm.

With Dodgers current pitching coach Rick Honeycutt transitioning into a new role, Prior is expected to takeover the position starting next season.

Cubs fans know the story of Prior's playing career all too well. The Cubs drafted him second overall in the 2001, with Prior making his MLB debut just a season later. He went on to dominate in 2003, posting an 18-6 record, 2.43 ERA and 245 strikeouts in 30 starts, a season in which he made the All-Star Game and finished third in the NL Cy Young Award voting.

However, Prior's season ended on a sour note, as he was on the mound during the Steve Bartman incident in Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS. Prior exited the game with a 3-1 lead, but the Cubs surrendered seven more runs that inning, eventually falling to the Marlins 8-3 before losing Game 7 the next day. 

Prior struggled to stay healthy after 2003, eventually retiring in 2013 after multiple comeback attempts. While many blame his injury-riddled career on former Cubs manager Dusty Baker, Prior does not. 

While we can only wonder what could've been with Prior to the pitcher, it's good to see him still making an impact in baseball in some fashion.

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