Bryant callup not 'scripted,' comes from position need
Olt's right wrist fracture left hole at third, so Cubs turned to top prospect
CHICAGO -- Mike Olt's unfortunate break prompted the Cubs to promote top prospect Kris Bryant sooner than they had planned.
Olt was diagnosed with a hairline fracture in his right wrist, which he sustained when he was hit by a pitch last Saturday in Colorado, and Chicago found itself shorthanded at third base. Enter Bryant.
"The timing wasn't exactly the way we scripted it out," Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said Friday. "We would've waited a little longer and let [Bryant] finish his development and put him on the road in a different situation, but with the needs of the big league team and the way he was playing down there, this makes as much sense as anything."
Bryant, who led the Major Leagues this spring with nine home runs, was batting .321 (9-for-28) in seven games with Triple-A Iowa, and he hit his third home run in his last at-bat on Thursday against New Orleans. He nearly had another in that game, but he was robbed with a great catch at the right-field wall by the Zephyrs' Cole Gillespie.
Epstein prefers to have the top prospects open on the road -- the Cubs did that with Javier Baez and Jorge Soler last year -- but Chicago's third basemen are a combined 4-for-27, worst in the National League, with one home run and one RBI, plus a .233 on-base percentage.
"We would've done it a little later, but you can't script everything out in baseball," Epstein said. "It's a great day and we hope the start of something special."
As far as Cubs manager Joe Maddon was concerned, the timing was perfect, especially with Bryant having only three hours of sleep.
"He's a little blurry eyed right now, eyes a little bloodshot, no sleep, a lot of excitement, family coming into town, day game, Wrigley Field, 70 degrees in April -- all these anomaly moments," Maddon said. "To be that tired can actually help you relax. I think it's almost a perfect setting for him to show up."
As for any discussions regarding Bryant's service time, Epstein dismissed it as being a non-issue. By delaying his promotion 12 days into the season rather than have him on the 25-man Opening Day roster, the Cubs will gain an additional year of service time. The 12-day countdown ended Friday.
"There is no service time issue," Epstein said. "He's here ready to play baseball. The Major League team had a need. He's a really good player and ready to go. I just talked to him, big smile on his face, and he's ready to be a Cub for a long time."