It's his day: Bryant to make Cubs debut

The Kris Bryant wait is over.

The only more exciting news Thursday night would have been if Bryant were named the Blackhawks' starting goalie for Friday night's playoff game.

But Bryant has been very good at baseball, and the Cubs will call up their third-base prospect in time for Friday afternoon's home game against the San Diego Padres at Wrigley Field. ESPN first reported the call-up, and other sources confirmed it.

The 23-year-old Bryant his third home run of the season Thursday at Class AAA Iowa. The Cubs might not have called him up so soon but their hand was forced when third baseman Mike Olt was discovered to have a hairline fracture of his right ulna, the result of being hit by a pitch last weekend at Colorado. An MRI revealed the fracture, and Olt will need to be in a cast for about three weeks.

Bryant, the Cubs' first-round draft pick (second player taken overall) out of the University of San Diego in 2013, tore up spring training by batting .425 with 9 home runs. He became the talk of major-league baseball, but the Cubs are gaining by bringing him up now instead of activating him on Opening Day.

Because 12 days of the major-league season will have passed, Bryant will not get credit for a full year of service time. That means the Cubs essentially will get seven years out of Bryant before he can become a free agent. A player must have six full years in the big leagues to be a free agent, but Bryant will fall short of the days required to get a full season this year.

In all likelihood, the Cubs would have waited until next week, when the team is on the road, before bringing up Bryant, if for no other reason than not to make taking advantage of the service-time rules look so obvious.

However, the injury to Olt gives them cover.

Even with the Blackhawks and Bulls in their respective playoffs, a full media circus is likely to descend on Wrigley Field on Friday morning.

Last season Bryant hit a combined 43 home runs and drove in 110 runs between Class AA Tennessee and Iowa. He had a combined slugging percentage of .661 and an OPS of 1.098 to lead all of minor-league baseball and gain consensus recognition as minor-league player of the year.

Beginning Friday, he will join a lineup that includes another rookie phenom, right fielder Jorge Soler, along with first baseman Anthony Rizzo and shortstop Starlin Castro.

It's likely Bryant will bat in the middle of the order, and manager Joe Maddon was asked Wednesday about how he thought Bryant would respond to the pressure and the expectations.

“The thing I like to do with young players like that is to is just try to emphasize you're just one of a group,” Maddon said. “I've been around prodigies before.

“My expectations are you play hard, you do your work and that you care. Right now we've got young players playing nine innings hard.”

Maddon was asked if thought Bryant might struggle.

“A lot of times, my experience has been sometimes when they come up they don't only because they haven't had a chance to process the whole thing,” he said. “You just come up here and you almost have blinders on in a good way and you just go out and play like you've always been playing.”

Images: Kris Bryant's college and minor league years

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