Cubs 8, Brewers 4: Kris Bryant homers in spring-opening victory

SHARE Cubs 8, Brewers 4: Kris Bryant homers in spring-opening victory

A bad throw from Jim Adduci at first allowed Saladino to slide into second with a stolen base after Zagurski had him picked off.

MESA, Ariz. — Saying he was motivated by Twitter critics and trade rumors after struggling through a shoulder issue and power-drained second half last year, 2016 MVP Kris Bryant drove a two-run homer to left field in his first at-bat of the spring off Chase Anderson as the Cubs beat the rival Brewers in the Cactus League opener for both teams.

He also added a line single in his other at-bat at Sloan Park and started a sharp 5-4-3 double play to end the top of the third in between.

Of those critics, Bryant said after the game: “Bring it.”

Big Z with the ‘W’

Mike Zagurski, 36, the 240-pound left-hander who was the subject of Rick Morrissey’s must-read column this week, pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the third to earn the victory.

Zagurski, who spent two years in Japan before returning to U.S. baseball in ’17 and pitching briefly with the Brewers last year, gave up a ground-ball single leading off the inning and two one-out walks before Bryant’s double play.

He also struck out slugger Eric Thames, then had Tyler Saladino picked off first before a wide throw to second allowed Saladino to escape with a stolen base.

Big boys of rotation to debut

The Cubs’ projected starting five make their spring debuts in this order: Jon Lester on Monday against the Padres, Yu Darvish on Tuesday against the Diamondbacks, Cole Hamels on Wednesday at the Rangers, Kyle Hendricks on Thursday against the Athletics and Jose Quintana on Friday at the Diamondbacks.

Should anyone read anything into that for the purposes of opening the regular season?

“Go ahead,” manager Joe Maddon said. “Whatever you want.”

On deck: Cubs at Giants, Scottsdale, Arizona, 2:05 p.m., radio, Tyler Chatwood vs. Madison Bumgarner.

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