Kris Bryant era to begin today at Wrigley | Bleader

Friday, April 17, 2015

Kris Bryant era to begin today at Wrigley

Posted By on 04.17.15 at 10:45 AM

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Kris Bryant, after homering in March during a spring training game in Las Vegas.
  • AP Photo/Las Vegas News Bureau, Steve Spatafore, File
  • Kris Bryant, after homering in March during a spring training game in Las Vegas.
Twelve days ago, the Cubs opened their 2015 season with a 3-0 loss to the Cardinals at Wrigley. But the north-siders didn't have their real third baseman. Kris Bryant was serving a sentence at Triple-A Iowa. Mike Olt played third, and went 0-4 with two strikeouts.

A week after that loss, Olt was struck on the right wrist by a 96-mile-an-hour pitch during a game in Colorado. Initial X-rays were negative, but a follow-up MRI this week revealed a hairline fracture.

Bryant's Iowa sentence was contract related. The 23-year-old phenom was all-everything in the minors last year—43 homers, a .325 batting average in Double A and Triple A. He led big-league teams this exhibition season with nine homers in just 14 games, and also hit .425. The Cubs relegated him to Iowa anyway, because by keeping him off their big-league roster for a dozen days, they delayed his free agency an extra year, until after his 2021 season. Bryant hit .321 for Iowa with three homers, including a three-run blast last night that helped Iowa beat the New Orleans Zephyrs 10-7.

The 12th day was up yesterday, and Bryant has been paroled from Iowa. He's expected to be in the lineup this afternoon as the Cubs take on the Padres and all-star right-hander James Shields at Wrigley. The north-siders have rebounded from their opening-night loss and are tied with the Cardinals for first at 5-3.

Olt, 26, was a phenon himself a few years ago. He's shown great but sporadic power; with the Cubs last year, he hit .160 with 12 homers and 100 Ks in 225 at bats. In his 15 at bats this season, he hit .133 with one homer. He'll be in a cast the next three weeks, and unless Bryant surprises everyone and struggles, Olt may not see much of third base for the Cubs again.

Meantime, another star Cubs youngster, Addison Russell, might also be called up soon. Ordinarily a shortstop, he played second for Iowa last night, and had three hits, lifting his average to .355. The Cubs could use help at second.

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