Kris Bryant said it best when he told the media he “couldn’t have scripted it any better.”
Bryant hit his 100th career home run — a solo shot to left field in the first inning off Wei-Yin Chen — in the Cubs’ 13-4 victory Wednesday against the Marlins.
Coincidentally, the career milestone came three years to the day that Bryant, who was 23 at the time, hit his first homer.
He became the quickest Cub to join the 100-homer club, which has 21 other members.
Heading into the game, Bryant was aware he was at 99, but he didn’t realize what he had done until he met his teammates in the dugout and looked up at the video board.
Bryant has never set numeric goals, but he said it felt “pretty cool” to reach the milestone.
“It’s really nice to kind of sit back and reflect on it and just realize all the cool stuff I’ve been able to do so far in my career,” said Bryant, who has hit four of his six homers in May. “[I’m] just really grateful for it because I’m living the dream every day I get to step out on that field, and to have 100 homers to go along with it is great.”
Reaching the century mark was fantastic, but the two-time All-Star appeared to be more impressed with his sliding catch in right field in the fourth inning.
Some players feel uncomfortable when a manager switches up the batting lineup or moves them to a different position, but Bryant embraces it.
His willingness to accept new challenges stems from when his dad was his coach.
“As the coach’s kid, you can’t always bat third and play short,” Bryant said. “So I literally moved all around the field. I caught, I played left, right, second base.
“So I guess it just really makes me feel like a kid again. So I really do enjoy that. Anytime I get to move around the diamond always puts a smile on my face.”
Manager Joe Maddon believes this is only the beginning for Bryant.
“The sky is the limit,” Maddon said. “The guy is dedicated, motivated, athletic. He’s good. He takes care of himself, multiple positions, MVP winner. He does not care where you put him, whether it’s offensively or defensively. He’s kind of the manager’s dream.”
Day of firsts
Outfielder Mark Zagunis was in the big leagues just long enough with the Cubs last June to get 14 at-bats — and get hungry.
On his first day back from Iowa, he took a bite out of the Marlins with his first big-league hit, a single to right in the seventh after entering in right field on a double switch at the top of the inning.
“It’s just one less thing to worry about,” he said. ”I got it out of the way, and now I can just play. Everyone knows when you get your first hit. So I knew I didn’t have it yet. I’m glad I was able to put a good swing on the ball.”
Zagunis was called up along with hard-throwing right-hander Justin Hancock, who made his major-league debut and threw 1 2/3 innings.
The Cubs optioned pitchers Rob Zastryzny and Jen-Ho Tseng back to Iowa after they pitched Tuesday.
Contributing: Gordon Wittenmyer