On Wednesday, Bryant and Cubs manager David Ross confirmed that the team will try the slugger out in the leadoff position, attempting to plug a hole that has bedeviled the team since Dexter Fowler left the squad following the 2016 season.
“I think we have so much turnover, just trying certain guys out, you don’t get that consistency,” Bryant told reporters, including MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian. “If I need to be the guy that’s up there that’s going to be consistent and get on base, I’ll be that guy.”
NBC 5 Chicago Sports
Bryant doesn’t have a lot of experience leading off, doing so on just seven occasions in his MLB career. He is 9-for-28 in those games, with three RBI’s and zero home runs, but Ross believes that the slugger could be an ideal fit for a position the Cubs have struggled to figure out in recent seasons.
“I talked to Kris about that and he’s all in,” Ross told reporters, including ESPN’s Jesse Rogers. “You’ll see him at the top of the order a whole lot in spring training. Kris Bryant is a really good at-bat, gets on base, and is probably one of our best baserunners. His baseball IQ is extremely high.”
During his career, Bryant has primarily hit in the second and third positions in the lineup. He has had a ton of success batting in the two-spot, with a .298 average and 69 home runs in 1,562 career plate appearances.
In terms of the rest of the lineup, Ross was tight-lipped. While the skipper wouldn’t confirm that he was looking at Anthony Rizzo in the second spot in the lineup, such a move would make plenty of sense.
Batting Rizzo second would not only give him more at-bats, but it would also fit with a strategic wrinkle that teams could employ more this year, alternating the handedness of hitters to take advantage of the new three-batter minimum that relief pitchers will face this season.
The Cubs’ first spring training game will come on Saturday when they take on the Oakland A’s at Sloan Park.