Back in Wrigley, Bryant nothing but appreciative of Cubs

  • San Francisco's Kris Bryant greets Cubs fans as he walks to the dugout before Friday's game at Wrigley Field.

    San Francisco's Kris Bryant greets Cubs fans as he walks to the dugout before Friday's game at Wrigley Field. Associated Press

  • Cubs fans are happy to see the Giants' Kris Bryant Friday at Wrigley Field.

    Cubs fans are happy to see the Giants' Kris Bryant Friday at Wrigley Field. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 9/10/2021 2:15 PM

Kris Bryant's first steps back into Wrigley Field on Friday were very much like Bryant himself -- polite and friendly.

His pregame chat with reporters featured 100% grateful for his time with the Cubs, 0% animosity toward how it ended.

 

"There's no disappointment at all, no," he said while sitting in the visitors dugout. "I feel like I've made the choice to look back on my time here and just smile at it because it was nothing but smiles.

"There were definitely some harder times, but if you told me when I was drafted I'd spend 6½ years here and win a World Series and MVP and Rookie of the Year, four All-Star Games and tons of great memories, I'd tell you you're crazy. How is everything going to happen to me? Now I'm sitting here today and that actually did happen to me, for an organization like the Chicago Cubs and playing at Wrigley Field every single day. That's amazing."

Bryant batted fifth in the Giants' order, but got a chance in the top of the first inning to face former teammate Kyle Hendricks when San Francisco put two runners on with a walk and infield single. With two on and two out, Bryant swung and missed a Hendricks' changeup for strike three to end the inning.

Before the first pitch, the Cubs played a tribute video, then chairman Tom Ricketts presented him with a No. 17 scoreboard tile and a 2016 pennant. When Ricketts' name came up in the pregame interview, Bryant was, well, nice to his former boss.

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"They gave me a lot of money. How could I have ill will toward anybody?" Bryant said with a laugh. "It's such a dumb thing to even think about or do. Yeah, you can be mad at how certain situations were handled.

"But if I wanted to play every single day, they would have let me. That's so special. Not many people get to do that and get paid lots of money to do it. I have tremendous respect for every single person I've seen in this organization."

Bryant, a Las Vegas native, said Wrigleyville will always be home for him. He spent time Thursday walking around the neighborhood, but the real journey began with Friday morning's bus ride to the stadium. A large crowd gathered to greet the Giants team bus and Bryant, of course, drew loud cheers as he disembarked.

"Staying at a hotel in Chicago is really weird to me," he said. "I didn't picture that many people waiting out there. It was really special. It kind of reminded me of when we got home at 6 in the morning when we won the World Series and there were still people waiting for us.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"You expected some people, but not that many people. I wish I could sign autographs for all of them, but it's a busy day for me, I had to get in and get going. It was really cool. Pulling up, I saw them in the distance. I always sit in the front of the bus, too, so I got the perfect view of it."

Bryant admitted he had no idea where to enter the stadium from the visitors' side in right field. He said he'd never set foot on that side of the concourse.

As far as joining the Giants, Bryant said the strangest part was putting on a new uniform. But he certainly appreciates playing for the team with the best record in the National League.

"It honestly feels a lot like it did over there for so many years," Bryant said. "That's what's been great for me. I've been able to make a seamless transition over here because there's a lot of winning over here and I've been used to it. Then I feel like the player and person I am, I fit in really well with this team because there's a lot of people that are veterans

"Buster (Posey), (Brandon) Crawford and (Brandon) Belt -- they're kind of like me and my personality, so it was just really nice for me to come into the clubhouse and be surrounded by a lot of people that."

Bryant was happy to be playing left field Friday instead of third base, so he'd have a chance to listen to fans in the bleachers throughout the game.

And of course he was asked if there will ever be another Chicago chapter to his baseball life. Bryant will be a free agent this winter, just like Anthony Rizzo, Javy Baez and everybody else the Cubs traded.

"I don't know," he said. "It's a possibility, it always is. Never closing the book on this place ever."

@McGrawDHSports

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