First things first: Bryant moves to leadoff spot for Chicago Cubs

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Kris Bryant takes a short breather at spring training Wednesday in Mesa, Ariz.

      Kris Bryant takes a short breather at spring training Wednesday in Mesa, Ariz. Scot Gregor | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 2/19/2020 6:46 PM

MESA, Ariz. -- It's only been five days, but Kris Bryant already is having quite the busy training camp.

When the Cubs' star third baseman arrived Saturday morning, he met with the media and addressed topics ranging from the trade rumors linked to his name throughout the off-season, his uncertain future with the Cubs and his service-time grievance, which Bryant lost.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

He also addressed the Houston Astros' sign-stealing scandal, describing it as "a disgrace."

Under contractual control through the 2021 season, wide open for an extension and wanting to stay put with the Cubs, Bryant met with club president Theo Epstein on Sunday.

Not only does he think he will be with the Cubs when the regular season opens March 26 against the Brewers in Milwaukee, Bryant predicted he'll be on the roster the entire season.

That takes us into Wednesday and the latest Bryant development.

A regular No. 2 or 3 hitter since joining the Cubs' lineup in 2015, Bryant is going to be batting leadoff this year.

The idea was hatched by new manager David Ross, and Bryant is excited about the new challenge and the prospects of getting an extra at-bat in many games.

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"I would love to," Bryant said of hitting first. "If that's what they tell me I'm going to do, then I'm going to do everything I can to put myself in the best situation to succeed.

"I didn't request it. I said, 'I'm here to do whatever you want to do. If you need me to be that guy for you, I'm your guy.' "

After he reported to camp Saturday and talked to reporters for more than 30 minutes, Bryant ran into Ross.

"I said, 'Step in my office, please,' " Ross said.

Ross was teammates with Bryant in 2015-16, so he knows what the three-time all-star can do in the lineup. Ross has a feeling Bryant will be a force out of the leadoff spot.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"My goal is to put the best players and the best at-bats for me at the top of the order," Ross said. "Kris Bryant is a really good at-bat. He gets on base, he's probably one of our best baserunners, his baseball IQ is extremely high. We spoke about it a little bit and he jumped on the opportunity.

"I think he feels like he can score a ton of runs for us. He's on board, I'm on board. I'm super excited about it."

The Cubs have been looking for a top-of-the-order hitter for three years.

"That leadoff spot has been a real thing around here since Dexter (Fowler) left (after the 2016 season)," Ross said. "The way (Bryant's) handled all the situations he's been in over his career and risen to the occasion a lot of the times, he can handle that. He's all in and thinks he can be an impact player at the top of the order, just like I do.

"I would hate to be on the other side and look at that big boy step into the box to lead things off. I like professional at-bats to start it off and set the tone for this group and what we're going to do. K.B.'s a great option."

Ross remembers getting up close looks at quality leadoff hitters during his 15 years as a major-league catcher.

"When that guy is a relentless at-bat and comes back up in the order, you're like, 'Man, this dude's back up here already?' " Ross said. "That's a powerful thing when you're on the opposing team. I'm glad (Bryant) is on board. We talked at length about it and he was really excited, so that makes me feel really good."

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