Rebound and redemption: Cubs 3B Kris Bryant earns first All-Star selection since MVP season

The Cubs third baseman joins catcher Willson Contreras and shortstop Javy Baez among three All-Star Cubs.

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Atlanta Braves v Chicago Cubs

Bryant celebrates a homer Wednesday against the Braves.

Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

CINCINNATI – Satisfaction’s not quite the right word.

“I’ve never been satisfied with how I’ve played baseball in my life,” Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant said, “always striving for more.”

But vindication might sum up what Bryant’s first All-Star selection since his 2016 MVP season represents.

“It’s just a nice reward to come into this year and kind of put some of the other stuff to rest and just go out there and play baseball,” said Bryant, whose third career All-Star selection puts him in Cleveland for next week’s game alongside Cubs teammates Javy Baez and Willson Contreras, who were elected by fans to the starting lineup.

He was selected through a commissioner’s office consideration after selections were made via fan and player voting.

“This is the most special one I’ve had so far, and that means a lot,” said Bryant, who has bounced back this year from a shoulder injury that sapped his power for much of last season – and from social media critics and even specious trade rumors over the winter.

“Obviously, last year didn’t go the way I wanted it to, but I battled through some things,” he said, “and in the offseason working really hard on just being healthy. And it’s paid off for me.”

Bryant, who doubled twice and walked in Sunday’s 8-6 loss to the Reds, is hitting .287 with 16 homers just past the halfway mark in the season – already three more than he hit all of last season, when he missed close to two months between two DL stints for the shoulder.

He also has a .398 on-base percentage and .935 OPS.

“I’m not done yet,” he said. “It’s still the hallway point. There are a lot of games to play. But it feels nice.”

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