Look for more of rookie third baseman Kris Bryant playing in the outfield, especially with the extra infielders now available to manager Joe Maddon after rosters expanded Tuesday.
And look for more hits down the stretch?
After hitting .330 with seven homers and a 1.024 during the Cubs’ torrid August, Bryant opened September with three more hits Tuesday, including a pair of run-scoring singles.
His last at-bat delivered a long fly ball to left that looked briefly like it could reach the basket.
“I’m not complaining. I’m not going to get the baseball gods upset,” Bryant said. “I got three hits.”
Bryant has heated up (after a .168 July) in part through work he and hitting coach John Mallee have done to shorten his swing and reduce some of the extreme uppercut and length.
“I was trying to hit the ball too far in the air instead of driving it,” he said. “So it was back to the basics for me. A lot of the drills we’ve been doing are the ones I’ve done in college and stuff that worked well for me, and I’d kind of strayed from them.”
Said Maddon: “He’s really made some nice adjustments. And he’s playing with a lot of confidence right now. A lot. He doesn’t care who’s pitching, what the count is – and his defense at third base, in the outfield – he’s just all about winning man.
“I’m telling you, for a young guy, he’s one of the best baseball players I’ve been around. Everybody’s looking at his home runs and all that other kind of stuff. He’s an outstanding baseball player.”
Bryant, who has played all three outfield spots this season, started Monday in right field for the second time in five games. And although he was back at third Tuesday, don’t be surprised to see more moving around.
“Absolutely you could see that out there,” Maddon said. “I’m really comfortable with him in the outfield. I think he’s a really good outfielder already.
“I think he could play shortstop in the big leagues, I really do.”
Is that going to happen?
“You never know,” Maddon said.
–The Cubs called up four players from the minors as rosters expanded Tuesday: infielder Javy Baez, outfielder Quintin Berry, right-hander Trevor Cahill and left-hander Tsuyoshi Wada. Baez started at second, finished at shortstop and went 0-for-4.
–Newly acquired outfielder Austin Jackson also joined the club Tuesday, making his Cubs debut off the bench and going 0-for-2. And catcher David Ross returned from the Family Medical Emergency List, putting the active roster at 30.
–To make room on the 40-man roster for Berry and Cahill, ineffective reliever Rafael Soriano was activated from the DL and designated for assignment; and clubhouse favorite James Russell also was DFA’d.
–Maddon caused a slight stir when he switched shortstop Addison Russell out of the game after the fifth, with the Cubs’ trailing 2-1. The manager said he simply wanted to keep lefty hitter Tommy La Stella’s bat in the game, needed to double switch and liked the option of having Baez to play short.