Cubs in spoiler state of mind as Kris Bryant returns
This would have been a good time for the Cubs to do a handkerchief giveaway.
A few weeks ago the return of Kris Bryant to Wrigley Field was projected to be a sad, sappy weekend. Sad not only because Bryant and other World Series heroes were traded away, but also because the new-look Cubs were miserably noncompetitive.
Now, though, the Cubs are the hottest team in the majors. So the sentimental feelings for Bryant still stand, but maybe at least this weekend will be a good chance for the Cubs to test their mettle as spoilers against playoff-bound San Francisco.
After hitting a walk off homer in the 10th inning to beat the Reds Wednesday, Jason Heyward talked about Bryant's return, and how players get used to close friends leaving the clubhouse.
"I think from a fan perspective, it's more weird to them, all of this stuff," Heyward said. "They're on the outside looking in on a lot of it. I feel like it's a privilege and an honor for a fan base to have players to miss, because regardless of how they leave, time is going to always win.
"There was a group that did a lot of special things here, so I think if anything, it's a treat to be able to root for the players to come back through here so soon. For me personally, the business is the business. Like I said at the deadline, I'm just happy to see guys go play somewhere where they're trying to win right now. That's a big thing and I know it's a lot of fun doing that."
Since being traded to the Giants for two minor league prospects on July 30, Bryant has hit .265 with 6 home runs and 18 RBI. That's nearly identical to the numbers he produced with the Cubs earlier this season, with a slightly less RBI rate. He missed a game on Tuesday due to left wrist discomfort.
A few weeks ago, Bryant told The Daily Herald's Mark Gonzales, "(Wrigley Field) will be home to me, regardless of what uniform I'm wearing. 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."
It will be a strange feeling for Cubs fans, who never had World Series heroes to root for in their lifetimes. The 2016 team fell away slowly, but management took a sledgehammer to the roster by trading Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Javy Baez in a span of two days.
This has also been a strange year for the Cubs in general. They lost 11 in a row with the old lineup, 12 in a row with the current roster, then won seven straight this week. Since ending the 12-game losing streak on Aug. 17 in Cincinnati, the Cubs have gone 13-7.
"Play the game the right way, over time if you focus on that more than anything, focus on moving in the same direction as a group, you will see the good results, no matter who it's against," Heyward said.
The Cubs will start Kyle Hendricks in Friday's series opener. He's coming off the worst two-game stretch of his career, giving up a combined 14 earned runs in his last two starts.