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Maddon lauds Bryant's keen batting eye

CINCINNATI -- As much as Cubs fans want to see Kris Bryant hit home runs, manager Joe Maddon likes the walks the rookie third baseman has been working.

Bryant drew eight walks in his first eight games, which has helped the Cubs' overall numbers. Chicago leads the National League in pitches per plate appearance.

"They're coming after him pretty hard right now," Maddon said of the way opponents are approaching Bryant. "To his credit, he's not swinging at everything, he's taking his walks. If he continues to do that, he'll continue to hit at a high pace.

"For right now, he's doing a nice job of not biting [at pitches out of the zone], and they keep trying to expand the strike zone, and he's not doing it."

What helps is Bryant is savvy enough to know that taking a walk can help the team.

"He's come up with a lot of guys on base and has not succumbed to chasing," Maddon said.

Jorge Soler, on the other hand, has seen his strikeout rate increase in his last eight games. The rookie outfielder struck out nine times in the first eight games, but had fanned 17 times in his last eight games entering Sunday's finale vs. the Reds.

"He was doing really well in the beginning and then he started to expand [his zone]," Maddon said of Soler. "There's nothing wrong with his swing -- he just has to organize his strike zone.

"He's a little bit eager," Maddon said. "He's had a lot of guys in scoring position. He's also done some really nice damage."

The Cubs' third rookie, Addison Russell, is still getting his feet on the ground, Maddon said. Overall, the manager is pleased with the approach at the plate.

"I think, in general, we're seeing a lot of pitches," Maddon said. "That's not a bad thing. Every hitter goes up there and we're just not up there hacking, we're working mindful at-bats and that's fun to watch."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.
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