CHICAGO -- It took Kris Bryant more than 20 big league games last season to hit his first home run. On Wednesday he notched his first of the year in his eighth game.
"That was really well struck," manager Joe Maddon said of Bryant's solo shot with one out in the fourth inning of the Cubs' 9-2 win over the Reds. "I know he's had a lot of good at-bats already. I love his at-bats -- he's being very patient, he's accepting his walks. It's just a matter of time when they make a mistake and he's ready to hit it. I think he looks great, and he's done really well at third base also. You see a lot more smoothness out there."
Sunday will mark the one-year anniversary of Bryant's Major League debut. He belted 26 home runs last season en route to winning National League Rookie of the Year honors, hitting 21 of those at Wrigley Field.
"It's always good to get the first one out of the way," Bryant said. "It's one of those days when you don't expect it, either. It's a nice surprise. I think I had some good at-bats today and I'm seeing the ball really good. I'm pleased with my approach up there."
The Cubs didn't expect many home runs because of the chilly weather at Wrigley Field. It was 43 degrees at game time, although they've played in worse conditions.
Bryant also drew two of the Cubs' 10 walks in the game, including one with the bases loaded in the five-run first inning. The total walks matches the team's season high (on April 7 vs. the D-backs). Chicago leads the Major Leagues in walks, with 41.
"We're just trying to have our at-bats and take what they give us," Jason Heyward said. "Don't get antsy, don't get greedy -- it's going to happen. We want to help our team win. Just try to go up there and put up a good at-bat. If they throw strikes, try not to miss them."
The Cubs were patient against Reds starter Alfredo Simon, who threw 49 pitches to nine batters and only retired two in an outing that lasted just two-thirds of an inning.
"We want to contribute any way we can," Bryant said. "I think it's a great thing to have as a team. We constantly push each other. Today was the perfect example of that."
"We just worked great at-bats all night long," Maddon said. "I really believe we're capable of maintaining that approach."