'It's double circled on my calendar': Bryant not on revenge mission when he returns to Wrigley
OAKLAND — Kris Bryant wishes he could play the Cubs sooner than Sept. 10-12 at Wrigley Field.
“It's double circled on my calendar,” Bryant said last Friday while wearing bright orange shoes as part of his new San Francisco Giants attire. “I'm super excited about that and looking forward to that. It will be weird coming to bat from the other side and go to the visiting side.”
But don't get the impression that this is a revenge mission for Bryant, who also dispelled suggestions that his fondness for playing for a Giants team that he described last week as “not flashy” was a shot at his former team.
“(Wrigley Field) will be home to me, regardless of what uniform I'm wearing,” Bryant said. “I can't wait to go back there and play games, or watch games when I am retired and be a fan of the team when I can.”
Bryant's memories run deeper than his National League Rookie of the Year and NL Most Valuable Player honors in his first two seasons — culminating in a 2016 World Series title that alleviated more than a century of misery for several generations of Cubs fans.
Nevertheless, Bryant was the last of the Cubs core players to be traded — minutes before the July 30 deadline. And his open appreciation for the Giants' workmanlike style 2 1/2 weeks after his trade became talk show fodder in his former market.
Bryant merely was sharing what he observed in the past 6 1/2 seasons in a different uniform.
“The Giants were an organization that never had the flash,” Bryant said. “They were never talked about as much. They just won.”
The Giants' attention to detail has supplemented their use of Bryant at four positions in a role similar to his duties with the Cubs.
“But in terms of flashiness, I don't know if we were super flashy with the Cubs, either,” Bryant said. “Passionate? Yes. But I don't know if flashy is the right word.”
Shortly after the trade, Giants left-hander Alex Wood sent Bryant a text message informing him, “there are no egos here. We just take care of business, we celebrate and move onto the next (game).”
Furthermore, former Cubs teammates Anthony Rizzo and Jason Heyward told Bryant he would benefit from playing for a new organization shortly after he was traded for two minor league prospects.
“They said ‘you get to experience something different and see what It's like (on the) outside,' “ Bryant recalled. “That's good for people in their careers, too.”
No one, however, should assume the Giants have the inside track once Bryant becomes a free agent after the 2021 World Series.
“It's just me being honest with the questions I'm being asked, and I just want to say I'm excited being here,” Bryant said. “It's hard not to be because the team is winning, and I grew up watching guys like Buster Posey and Evan Longoria, and now I get to play with them and pick their brains.”
Bryant is part of a renaissance with a Giants franchise that won three World Series titles in 2010, 2012 and 2014, only to be eliminated by the Cubs in the 2016 NL Division Series. But he has some compassion for his former team that suffered a 12-game losing streak shortly after he was traded and is saddled in fourth place in the NL Central.
“A lot of those guys are my friends,” Bryant said. “(Manager) David Ross was unbelievable to me my entire career. It's not taking anything away from the players they have on the field. It's just a combination of inexperience, and I'm happy guys have the chance to play and showing what they have.
“Sometimes you lose games along the way doing that. It's super cool to see some new names out there, and cool for fans to get acclimated with them. Hopefully they do great things for the team.”
The Giants-Cubs series will give Bryant a chance to have another at-bat at Wrigley Field, something he was deprived of during his final home game in a Cubs uniform on July 29. But Bryant didn't blame Ross, adding that he remained a Cub until the final minutes of the trade deadline.
“I think that's even more important for the fans to see whoever they want to express themselves,” Bryant said. “That will be cool for all of us who were traded.”