Bryant's dad excited to pitch to son in Derby
CHICAGO -- Mike Bryant's bucket list includes playing golf in Hawaii, fishing for rainbow trout in some place like Montana, sitting in with the Grateful Dead and pitching to his son, Kris, in a home run hitting contest.
On Monday in Cincinnati, Mike Bryant will be able to check one item off that list.
Kris Bryant was one of two Cubs named to the 2015 Gillette Home Run Derby presented by Head & Shoulders, and he will join teammate Anthony Rizzo in the event, to be held Monday at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.
"This is just frosting on the cake that he's in the Home Run Derby and I'm able to pitch to him," Mike Bryant said Thursday. "I'll take the chocolate, with the cake being that Kris made the All-Star team."
Bryant was selected this past Monday by National League manager Bruce Bochy to play in the All-Star Game presented by T-Mobile. On Wednesday, the rookie found out about the Home Run Derby, and he immediately called his dad.
"I told him two years ago, I said, 'Hey, if you ever make it to the big leagues and get in the Home Run Derby, I want to pitch to you,'" Mike Bryant said.
The elder Bryant was an outfielder in the Red Sox's Minor League system but never made it to the big leagues. He did play in a band, so he's used to being on stage, although Bryant knows there will be more people at Great American Ball Park than ever attended his concerts.
"I don't know how I'm going to react to that," Mike said. "I hope I don't clam up and can't throw a strike. I think I'll be able to collect myself. The last time I played in front of 50,000 people was like never. I played in front of 15,000 once and that didn't bother me."
This year's Home Run Derby will introduce a new streamlined format featuring brackets and timed rounds. Brackets in the first round were seeded based on 2015 home run totals through Tuesday's games. The first round matchups will include No. 1 seed Albert Pujols vs. No. 8 seed Bryant; No. 2 seed Todd Frazier vs. No. 7 seed Prince Fielder; No. 3 seed Josh Donaldson vs. No. 6 seed Rizzo; and No. 4 seed Joc Pederson vs. No. 5 seed Manny Machado.
Rizzo selected Cubs coach Franklin Font to throw to him. Bryant, the sixth rookie to compete in the Derby, knew his dad wanted to do it. Mike, 56, does want to go over strategy with Kris.
"I'd like to throw it down and in and go for the 350-foot home runs and not worry about hitting 430-foot home runs, and win it," Mike said. "I know he can hit it 480, 500 feet, and I know maybe they'll want to see that."
If the Bryants win, Mike is hoping the first-place prize might be a truck. He's driving a 2007 Hyundai with 180,000 miles on it, so he could use a new set of wheels. Mike is also eager to get a photo of Pujols, Kris and himself as a souvenir.
"There will be a lot of smiling going on," Mike said.
His arm is ready. The elder Bryant estimates he throws between 300-400 pitches a day as a hitting instructor.
"I'm really excited about this," Mike said. "I'm excited for Kris. He always rolls his eyes at me a little bit because I'm such a Type A personality and he's such a Type B. I won't embarrass him."