Cubs postpone Tuesday’s game to Kris Bryant Era
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The countdown to Kris Bryant just got a little easier to take for Cubs fans and teammates.
How will Tuesday’s postponement affect the pitching rotation? The status of the fifth starter the first time through?
It’s one fewer game that the top prospect in baseball will miss as he waits out his service-time purgatory before joining a Cubs lineup that was in dire need of another hit in Sunday’s season opener against the Cardinals.
Just one more hit in any of the first three innings. Or the fifth. Or the seventh.
Any of the 13 times a Cub came to the plate with a man in scoring position Sunday (seven of those trips they struck out).
If fans and Cub pitchers are lucky, the stadium operations boys will come up with another bank of clouds Wednesday to blame an early postponement on, and trade two Bryant-less games in bleacher-less April for separate-admission doubleheaders in July.
So much down time so early in this much-hyped season might feel like a buzz kill. But as everybody knows by now, there are countless ways to look at a Cubs bummer and see the glass of urine as half full.
The Iowa Cubs open their Class AAA season Thursday night in Memphis with slugging third-base prospect Bryant in the middle of the I-Cubs’ order.
By then he’ll be on his fifth of 12 days the Cubs need to keep him off the major-league roster to assure an additional year of club control (through 2021) before free agency eligibility.
If Wednesday’s Cubs-Cardinals game gets postponed, too, it would mean Bryant gets halfway through that stretch with only two big-league games missed.
How much difference he’ll make to the Cubs’ flawed lineup – much less how much difference he might have made Sunday – is anybody’s guess. (But feel justified drooling over the potential at Coors Field against the Rockies’ scrap-heap pitching staff this weekend).
Few teams have taken as much public heat (and agent/union backlash) for sending out a prospect as the Cubs did when they cut Bryant from camp with a .425 average, major-league-leading nine spring homers and a 1.652 OPS.
Even teammates said they wanted Bryant – who has 174 games of professional experience – on the team, and said he was ready to help, though they understood the business side of it.
Bryant said he believed his performance would have counted more. The players’ union threatened litigation.
“It was uncomfortable around here for a few days,” team president Theo Epstein said, “more so for Kris, unfortunately, than for anybody else. I felt for him.”
By the time Bryant joins the big club, the Cubs will likely be 10 or 11 games into the season, probably on its second road trip of the season (Pittsburgh, Cincinnati in late April).
He might even be a left fielder by then, depending on how Mike Olt’s doing the first two weeks of the season at third.
One thing’s for sure: Kris Bryant will be a major storyline of this Cubs season for whatever home runs he might eventually hit for them, or for whatever offensively-bereft games he’s not here to help.
“I know a few months from now, a few years from now certainly, this is going to be really a blip on the radar screen,” Epstein said, “and the big picture is he’s turning into a great player, and that’s why there was a lot of attention.
“We’ll take all the great players we can get. It’s a good problem to have.”
NOTE – Tuesday’s scheduled starter, Jake Arrieta moves back one day to Tuesday, and lefty Travis Wood stays on schedule to open the Colorado series on Friday. Jason Hammel moves to Saturday and Kyle Hendricks to Sunday, with Jon Lester pushed back to Monday’s homestand opener against Cincinnati.