Third baseman Kris Bryant is off to an interesting start at Class AAA Iowa.
The Cubs' top prospect homered in Monday's 4-3 victory over Albuquerque in Des Moines. He had 2 homers Sunday.
Since being promoted from Class AA Tennessee to Iowa last week, Bryant is 4-for-18, with all 4 of his hits being homers. That gives him an early hitting line of .222/.300/.889. His total line between Tennessee and Iowa is .346/.448/.714 with 26 home runs, 64 RBI, 45 walks and 85 strikeouts.
Bryant tried to take a step back and slow things down beginning with Sunday's game.
"He did a good job of taking away the anxiety and slowing himself down, because when you get anxious, everything speeds up," Iowa hitting coach Brian Harper told the Des Moines Register.
Bryant was 1-for-2 with 2 walks Monday. His homer came off Albuquerque starting pitcher Jeff Bennett.
"I kind of knew how his pitches moved," Bryant told the paper. "It's definitely a confidence booster when you go into an at-bat knowing how many pitches a guy has and where they go."
The Register reported that Bryant is getting some kidding about hitting only homers at Iowa.
"The guys in the clubhouse were joking about that, too," Bryant said. "'You gonna get a single today?' I guess we'll keep the streak alive, hopefully."
Long bullpen, short bench:
For much of the season, the Cubs have been playing with a 13-man pitching staff. That has taken some of the stress off the relievers, who've undergone a transition since the Cubs released veteran Jose Veras, who opened the season as the closer.
"I think it helps a lot, especially when you're being mindful of their usage and some of the things that historically we've had in terms of health," manager Rick Renteria said of the extra arm in the bullpen.
"It allows them moments to be used in different situations. They're not necessarily tied into one slot. I think that they've been able to feed off each other."
Not long ago, a 12-man pitching staff was considered unwieldy. The 13-man staff leaves the Cubs short a position player on the bench, but Renteria said he does not feel hamstrung.
"I still think, as much as offense is a big component of baseball, you still win with pitching and defense," he said. "Over the last month, we've had some good hitting.
"It is nice to be able to minimize damage when you use the relief that you have available to you. I think we've been catching the ball pretty well. Hopefully it continues."