Cubs

Kris Bryant silenced his doubters in a way only he can

Kris Bryant silenced his doubters in a way only he can

Kris Bryant's redemption is best served cold and rainy.

It's been such a trying season for the former NL MVP, dealing with a left shoulder injury and now a left wrist contusion that has robbed him of nearly 60 games this year and affected his swing even when he is on the field.

After missing a game over the weekend to let his shoulder rest, Bryant was plunked on the left hand/wrist by a Chris Archer fastball Tuesday night. He eventually came out of that game and missed the next two nights before finding his name back in the starting lineup Friday afternoon against the Cardinals.

In his first at-bat, Bryant got fooled badly, striking out against Adam Wainwright on three pitches, including a curveball that missed the zone by a good foot-and-a-half.

It's not often you see Bryant chase at something that far out of the zone or look that silly.

But he got his revenge.

The next time up, Wainwright started Bryant off with a first-pitch curveball that missed the zone, came back with a fastball for a strike and then tried his hand with Uncle Charlie again.

This time, Wainwright left the ball over the heart of the plate and Bryant did not miss it one bit.

The Cubs star hammered it off the top of the batter's eye in center field for a 448-foot solo homer - a rocket that came off the bat at 108 mph.

"It felt good," Bryant said. "I mean, to make an adjustment, from my first at-bat, having a really bad at-bat and then make an adjustment. I feel like that's the most satisfying thing you can have in this game.

"He made me look foolish the first time and I did something between that at-bat to the next one and something clicked. So that's very satisfying."

It was only Bryant's second homer since July 20 and fifth dinger since May 14.

Before he injured his shoulder on a slide in mid-May, Bryant was actually off to one of the best starts of his career, hitting .281/.415/.586 (1.001 OPS) with 8 homers and 21 RBI in 34 games. He also struck out just 24 times vs. 21 walks.

Since then, he's struck out 81 times in 65 games.

One home run isn't enough to make any bold declarations that "Kris Bryant is back!" But it was certainly a decisive shot and any way the Cubs can get contributions offensively right now they'll take it.

If Bryant can somehow start finding his groove again, that would do wonders for this lineup with October just two days away.

The shoulder issue will still be there for Bryant, but the wrist/hand doesn't seem to be a major factor moving forward.

"[It feels] good," he said. "I'm very lucky, I think. That was probably one of the worst hit-by-pitches I've had in my whole life. It's scary.

"I don't know how we don't end up breaking bones in our hand every time we get hit in the hand because it's so fragile. It kinda got me in the meat of the hand. But it feels good, especially hitting the home run."

Kris Bryant is ready for fatherhood '[I was] put on this earth to be a dad'

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USA TODAY

Kris Bryant is ready for fatherhood '[I was] put on this earth to be a dad'

Suffice to say Kris Bryant is budding with anticipation for becoming a father.

Bryant and his wife, Jessica, are expecting their first child — a baby boy due in April. During Friday night’s Cubs-Padres broadcast, the third baseman shared his excitement for fatherhood with reporter Taylor McGregor

“I think this is really what I’ve been put on this Earth to do, is be a dad,” Bryant said, laughing. “Obviously I play baseball pretty good, but I’m just so excited [for] this new journey with my wife and my family. Honestly, I think this is going to be one of the best years of my life.”

Bryant’s son is due shortly after Opening Day, but the Cubs will play two spring training games in Las Vegas — Bryant’s hometown — on March 7-8. He told McGregor one of Jessica’s last doctor’s appointments is around the same time, so Bryant will get one last visit in before Baby Bryant is born.

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How Dusty Baker inspired former Cub Adam Greenberg after scary head injury

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AP

How Dusty Baker inspired former Cub Adam Greenberg after scary head injury

Adam Greenberg’s baseball career was cut short by a scary head injury 15 years ago. But with the help of Dusty Baker, he found the motivation to transition to his post-baseball life.

Greenberg made his MLB debut with the Cubs on July 9, 2005, and Baker called upon the then 24-year-old to pinch-hit in the ninth inning against the Marlins. On the first pitch Greenberg saw in the big leagues, Marlins reliever Valerio De Los Santos hit him in the back of the head with a 92-mph fastball.

Greenberg was concussed from the incident, suffered from vertigo and vision problems, and battled depression. The Cubs released him in 2006 and he caught on in the minor leagues with the Royals and later the Dodgers in 2007 — which is when Baker reappears in the story. From MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart:

A couple of years following the incident, in 2007, Baker got a letter from a fan requesting a baseball card be signed. In the letter, the person told Baker that Greenberg had been released by the Royals and his baseball career was in jeopardy. Baker tracked down Greenberg and left him the voice mail that served as his motivation for a post-baseball life.

“It was so genuine and from the heart,” Greenberg said. “It put me in tears the first time, but it was the motivation and inspiration I needed to get up and keep going. And since then, he’s been somebody that’s been near and dear to me."

It's unfortunate Greenberg couldn’t experience a long big-league career, but Baker inspired him and helped him move forward post-baseball. According to McTaggart, Greenberg started a nutrition company and sold it 10 years later. He also ran for state senate in Connecticut in 2019 and is currently a baseball analyst for the ACC Network.

Greenberg’s career effectively ended moments after it began, but 2005 wasn’t the last time he stepped in a big-league batters’ box. In 2012, fans started an online petition to get him one last at-bat — and his career came full circle. The Marlins signed him to a one-day contract on Oct. 2, 2012, and he pinch-hit that same day against the Mets.

Greenberg struck out on three pitches, but Baker’s voicemail left a mark on his life. Seeing him enjoy success outside of baseball is as heartwarming as it gets.