Bryant says he'll do whatever Cubs ask of him
The Cubs feel Kris Bryant is able, even if he isn't ready yet.
As far as Bryant goes, he seems willing.
"I'm going to play wherever they tell me to play," Bryant said Friday. "I know it might be a cliché, but it really is the truth: Every ballplayer should listen to their coach. I'm going to go out there, if it's at third base, I'm going to play as hard as I can. If it's the outfield, first base, pitcher, I play as hard as I can."
Bryant isn't going to pitch. The Cubs made him their No. 1 draft pick this year to play third base, or at least to start out there.
On Friday, they officially announced that the 21-year-old Bryant had agreed to sign, as he got a $6.7 million signing bonus, in line with the money "slotted" for the second overall pick in the draft.
Bryant was drafted out of the University of San Diego, where he led the nation this past spring with 31 home runs in his junior year. He also batted .329 with a slugging percentage of .820.
Before Friday's game against the Cardinals, Cubs manager Dale Sveum threw batting practice to Bryant, a right-handed batter.
Sveum, a hitting coach by trade, came away impressed.
"He has impressive leverage in his swing to hit balls that far and that high," he said.
The Cubs' plan is to send Bryant to their spring facility in Mesa, Ariz., to get into game shape and work off the rust that might have set in since his college season ended. From there, it's likely Bryant will go to Boise, where the Cubs have a Class A team in the Northwest League.
"It's been a dream of mine," he said of playing professional baseball. "I'm very happy to be a Cub. Thanks to my parents."
His mother, Susie, and his father, Mike, attended their son's introductory news conference and watched him take batting practice. Mike Bryant was a former Boston Red Sox farmhand years ago and was able to learn from Hall of Famer Ted Williams, considered the best pure hitter of all-time. Mike has been instrumental in his son's development.
"It's been awesome to have him as a dad," Kris said. "He's kind of taught me the way to go about my journey and avoid the potholes he stepped in."
Perhaps the younger Bryant's willingness to play anywhere comes from his dad, who had him play all over the diamond when he was growing up.
"He's an athlete, so he can play all those positions," Mike said.
Bryant's whirlwind day continued with a live interview in the Cubs' TV booth. Cubs president Theo Epstein came away impressed with how the newest Cub handled himself, given all the attention.
"He's a really good kid, as we knew, very polished," Epstein said. "I thought he handled what can be an intimidating day with a lot of poise.
"It's really cool to see how happy the family is. His mom was tearing up at the press conference. That's what it's all about."