CINCINNATI — Satisfaction isn’t 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 National League MVP season in 2016 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 All-Star selection enables him to join teammates Javy Baez and Willson Contreras, who were elected by fans to the starting lineup, next week in Cleveland.
Bryant 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 season from a shoulder injury that sapped his power for much of 2018, from social-media criticism and even from specious trade rumors in the offseason.
‘‘Obviously, last year didn’t go the way I wanted it to, but I battled through some things. 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 the Cubs’ 8-6 loss Sunday to the Reds, is hitting .287 with 16 home runs. That’s already three more than he hit all of last season, when he missed close to two months between two stints on the disabled list for the shoulder. He also has a .398 on-base percentage and a .935 OPS.
‘‘I’m not done yet,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s still the halfway point. There are a lot of games to play. But it feels nice.’’