Cubs

Worth the wait: Cubs promote Kris Bryant for Wrigley Field debut

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Worth the wait: Cubs promote Kris Bryant for Wrigley Field debut

The wait is over.

The Cubs are promoting Kris Bryant from Triple-A Iowa, according to a source familiar with the situation, and will unveil their biggest prospect on Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field against James Shields and the San Diego Padres.

“Today I got to tell my family that my dream is coming true,” Bryant posted on his personal Twitter account late Thursday night. “Can’t really put into words what that feels like. So excited for this journey!”

So ends Bryant Watch, an entertaining back-and-forth involving super-agent Scott Boras, the Major League Baseball Players Association, commissioner Rob Manfred, Theo Epstein’s front office and what seemed like just about anyone with a Twitter account.

It got to the point near the end of spring training where $155 million Opening Day starter Jon Lester could get a Bryant question and say: “That’s not my decision. That’s above my pay grade.”

[Kris Bryant Tracker: The wait is over]

The timing certainly works for the Cubs, exactly crossing off the 12 days needed to gain an extra year of club control over Bryant, who can now play almost seven full seasons on the North Side before becoming a free agent after the 2021 campaign.

It’s just business. Boras Corp. will never forget that.

But baseball reasons also forced the issue now with Bryant, Baseball America’s No. 1 prospect. Third baseman Mike Olt is heading to the disabled list after an MRI revealed a hairline fracture of his right wrist, a team source said Thursday night.

What if Olt hadn’t been drilled by a 96-mph fastball last weekend at Coors Field? Infielder Tommy La Stella (rib cage) is already on the disabled list and the Cubs have been scrambling for third-base options.

Ideally, the Cubs probably would have liked to see Bryant, 23, debut on the road, in less of a circus atmosphere. (Think next week in Pittsburgh.) But these circumstances appear to have accelerated the timeline and provided some cover. Too bad the Wrigley Field bleachers aren’t open yet.

This lineup should get a jolt from Bryant, who put up 43 homers, 110 RBI and a 1.098 OPS last season in the minors. He then blasted nine homers in 40 Cactus League at-bats. But the service-time math essentially guaranteed he wouldn’t break camp with the big-league team.

[MORE: Joe Maddon will manage the great expectations for Kris Bryant]

That specific language in the collective bargaining agreement has really been the only thing that’s slowed down Bryant on his fast track to The Show.

“What I always do is put myself in the guy’s shoes,” manager Joe Maddon said as the Bryant hype escalated in spring training. “What was my brain like at that age? What was I capable of handling at that age?

“He’s got me beat by so much right now, what I would have done or how I would have been able to handle all this at that moment. It’s not easy. There’s so many things coming at you from so many different directions. I think he’s done a wonderful job.”

The Cubs drafted Bryant No. 2 overall in 2013 and gave him a $6.7 million signing bonus. At the University of San Diego, he had become a Rhodes Scholarship candidate and won the Golden Spikes Award, college baseball’s Heisman Trophy. That same year, he earned MVP honors in the prestigious Arizona Fall League.

Bryant grew up in Las Vegas, playing with and against Bryce Harper, a future All-Star for the Washington Nationals. Bryant’s father, Mike, had played minor-league ball for the Boston Red Sox, and would teach local kids what he learned from the legendary Ted Williams: Hit your pitch. Hit it hard. Hit it in the air.

[NBC SPORTS SHOP: Gear up, Cubs fans!]

Bryant hit a three-run homer during Thursday’s 10-7 win in New Orleans, where rain washed out the second game of a scheduled doubleheader. After the initial disappointment, he didn’t lose his edge or his focus with Iowa, hitting .321 with three homers and 10 RBI in seven games.

The Cubs went 5-3 during Bryant’s Triple-A holding pattern and are now tied with the St. Louis Cardinals for first place in the National League Central. Wrigleyville will be rocking.

With Chicago hoping for deep playoff runs from the Bulls and Blackhawks, the city is talking about baseball again, expecting a new star to arrive.

Adidas had already ramped up the marketing campaign before Opening Night, putting his image on an Addison Street billboard across from Wrigley Field, promising Bryant will be “WORTH THE WAIT.”

The best quips from the best leadoff hitter of all time, Anthony Rizzo

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USA TODAY

The best quips from the best leadoff hitter of all time, Anthony Rizzo

Anthony Rizzo was not only in tip top shape as he reported for the Cubs first full squad workout, but his one-liner game was on point day one, as well. 

Here are some of his best quips from the day.

"It was great. Really probably the best off season I've had, right?"
 
Yes, Anthony... your wedding day is always the BEST day ever and the first offseason with your wife should be the BEST one ever. Quick learner.

"I'm usually not excited to come back, because I hate leaving home. But it was, I can say my wife now, was like 'man, you're really excited to go back this year.' So, it's good to be back."
 
 Emily should be proud, Rizzo seems to really have this married thing/lingo down! And his child-like energy and enthusiasm was palpable. Cubs fans, your first baseman is chomping at the bit.

"That extra month, it's been awhile. The first time a lot of guys have had that extra month. Unfortunately, I know what it's like to have that extra month."
 
Spare Cubs fans the reminder, Anthony. 

"A lot of guys in here are used to going to the NLCS. So, to get knocked out it's like "Whoa, what is this? Barbecuing in October?"

First of all, only those who live in Florida can talk about barbecuing in October, but we get the point. Cubs want to save the brats for November.

"Yea, and also Bryce Harper is coming to the Cubs, right?"

Rizzo thinks that's as likely to happen as the team going 80-82 and finishing last in the NL Central this year.

“So this is what happened. I offered him half of my 12 (million) that I’m making this year. But he turned it down. Put that report out," Rizzo said to Paul Sullivan of the Tribune. 
 
Harper or Machado?

“Both, three million each. I split it in half."
 
https://twitter.com/PWSullivan/status/1097523429681426432
 
Thanks to Sully for catching this quip--Rizzo's plan for the Cubs to sign Bryce Harper or Manny Machado. Generous, don't you think?

"I've been here for like two hours, so...from what I've heard I've heard it's been amazing, the energy. But, I don't know, what is the date? The 18th? It's February 18th, so every clubhouse is this energetic right now." 

Dates and days of the week are hard during Groundhog's Day, I mean Spring Training. But, props to Rizzo for being honest and the vibe after two hours was pretty great.

"It's the first day, I picked out my outfit last night. I was off to school today." 
 
First day feels...

"Hi Tony! Hi Jon, love you."
 
Mid-response, Rizz wasn't going to leave his guy Lester hanging. The love is real.

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SportsTalk Live Podcast: The Cubs are out of funds

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: The Cubs are out of funds

David Haugh, Hub Arkush and Gabe Ramirez join Kap on the panel.

0:00 - Tom Ricketts meets the media as the Cubs' full squad reports to Mesa. The panel discusses his comments on his father's emails and not having any money to spend this offseason.

6:00 - Kelly Crull and Tony Andracki join Kap from Sloan Park in Mesa. They discuss Tom Ricketts' press conference, how the Cubs players are handling the off-the-field distractions and how Joe Maddon is handling this spring.

13:00 - Tom Ricketts says their no collusion among baseball owners. Meanwhile, the players' union fires off an angry statement. What will happen after another slow winter for free agents?

19:00 - Chuck Garfien and Vinnie Duber join Kap from Glendale with the latest on the White Sox. They discuss the latest on Manny Machado and Yoan Moncada being the Sox' opening day 3rd baseman.

25:00 - The panel discusses Manny Machado's neverending free agency. Is the price starting to get too high for the White Sox? And if potential free agents in 2020 start signing extensions, should the White Sox overpaid now to land a superstar?

Listen to the entire podcast here or in the embedded player below.

Sports Talk Live Podcast

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