It didn't take Bryant long to go from slump to star

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Chicago Cubs Kris Bryant (17) heads for home, past third base coach Willie Harris, on a solo home run during the first inning of the team's baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds in Cincinnati on Friday, April 30, 2021.

    Chicago Cubs Kris Bryant (17) heads for home, past third base coach Willie Harris, on a solo home run during the first inning of the team's baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds in Cincinnati on Friday, April 30, 2021.

 
 
Updated 5/3/2021 8:58 PM

It seems like only a few weeks ago the Cubs were in a horrendous hitting slump.

But here it is May 3, and Kris Bryant is tied for the NL lead with 9 home runs, while Bryant and Javy Baez are tied for second in RBI.

 

Bryant is coming off the worst season and headed for free agency, but he's on pace to post the best numbers of his career, with a .323 average, 9 home runs and 22 RBI.

The opening game of the Cubs-Dodgers series Monday was postponed. The teams will play a doubleheader Tuesday, with games starting at 1:20 and 6:40 p.m. The Cubs have slated Kyle Hendricks to start the early game and have officially ruled the evening assignment TBA.

Bryant hit 2 home runs in Cincinnati on Sunday and was named National League player of the week. He last won the honor in 2019.

"Kris is a underrated baseball player," teammate Anthony Rizzo said. "He won the MVP, the rookie of the year and then arguably '17 was just as good. I think he had a higher OPS in '17 than his MVP year. But in this league when you come on and don't continue to somehow wow and you just stay consistent, the next guy comes up and wows or someone breaks out.

"But meanwhile, KB's just been kind of Steady Eddie. He's a had a couple injuries, but he's a really good baseball player and it's really nice to have this start of success because he's enjoying it a lot more and it's contagious."

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Well, Bryant hasn't been completely steady. He missed 60 games in 2018 and never got rolling last year in the shortened season, batting .206 with 4 home runs.

Bryant said there wasn't any magic formula to the Cubs breaking out of their collective slow start at the plate this season.

"Sometimes you press too much and try to do too much. That's very real," Bryant said. "But I don't think we've been doing that. We've all been working very hard on our routines and staying positive, talking to each other, trying to pick up things the pitchers are doing.

"Just trying to stay engaged in the baseball aspects of this thing and really focusing on that. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn't. Today was overall a good offensive day."

Before Monday's game was set to begin, the Cubs activated outfielder Joc Pederson from the injured list with a wrist injury and had him slated to lead off. Pederson spent his entire career with the Dodgers before signing with the Cubs as a free agent this winter.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Pederson has not yet broken out of an early slump and is hitting .137. The Cubs sent pitcher Keegan Thompson back to the Iowa Cubs after making his major-league debut Sunday.

Neither Ian Happ nor Nico Hoerner were in Monday's lineup after they collided in the outfield in the eighth inning of Sunday's 13-12 loss at Cincinnati. Happ left the field on a cart, while Hoerner stayed in the game. Bryant was set to start in center field Monday.

"I think both the guys are pretty sore from a really intense collision," manager David Ross said. "I'll know much more when I talk to the trainers after they put them through all the tests."

• Twitter: @McGrawDHBulls

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