MESA, Ariz. — Picking up where he left off shouldn’t be a problem for the National League Rookie of the Year, considering Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant is treating 2016 like a “continuation” of last season. As for the pressure of his team being picked to win it all, he’ll worry about that later. iron on sticker mlb
“’Expectations’ is a word we don’t have to pay attention to yet,” Bryant said Wednesday.
Bryant and his teammates will take the field Wednesday for the first time this spring with potential All-Stars all over the diamond.
“I’m looking at it as a continuation of last year with a three to four month break,” he said.
That could be bad news for opposing pitchers, as Bryant belted 26 home runs with 99 RBIs in his rookie season. This time around, he wants to make more contact.
“Something that stood out to me this offseason is when I got my pitch, I didn’t hit it all the time,” Bryant said. “I fouled it off or swung through it. That’s exciting to me, because the year I had last year was pretty good, but if I could get better at hitting those pitches, it could be even better. So I’m excited for that.”
Bryant is unique in that he actually embraces his struggles.
“It’s a roller coaster ride,” he said. “I wouldn’t be playing this game if it wasn’t like that. I enjoy the adversity because it only gets better.”
As for those team expectations, spring training isn’t the place for them to sink in. Maybe once the regular season starts, but with the Cubs’ young, talented core combined with veteran additions like Jason Heyward, the last thing Bryant or anyone else is feeling is pressure.
“At ease is a perfect word,” Bryant said. “Us young guys have our feet wet. We’re not nervous, we’re not trying to go out there and do everything all in one at-bat. It’s nice to have that pressure lifted off of you and just go out and play your game.”
To keep things light when the pressure does mount, Bryant and his teammates have David Ross. Bryant and first baseman Anthony Rizzo are going to document the popular catcher’s final season in the big leagues using an Instagram account: @Grandparossy_3.