Desperate for hitting, the Cubs have called up hot prospect Kris Bryant all the way from AA Tennessee to spark an offense that has scored only three runs in the last two games. Wait, he was just in AA for rehab? Wow, that could have been phrased better.
Out for more than two weeks with a shoulder issue that had hampered his play for over a month, Bryant just needed a couple games to get his timing right. He went 2-for-4 with 3 RBI and that aforementioned homer in his first game, then went 0-for-2 with a strikeout in brief action Tuesday afternoon.
I had speculated aloud — well, on Twitter — that the early exit was probably made in order to facilitate a trip on the first thing smoking out of Nashville. As Jess Bryant’s Instagram story revealed, that was indeed the case. The Cubs later confirmed Bryant’s travel plans, though Joe Maddon played things a little coy with the media prior to Tuesday’s win in San Francisco.
“I think there’s an opportunity he might be able to play tomorrow,” Maddon hedged. “We had hoped that it would work out this way and it looks like it’s going to.”
Rather than coming across as disingenuous, the skipper’s non-committal tone is more of a defense mechanism against the possibility that Bryant isn’t in the lineup for whatever reason. After all, the shoulder could have felt a little fatigued or Bryant could have slept on it funny either on the plane or in his hotel.
That doesn’t appear to be the case, so Bryant will be in there with Johnny Cueto on the mound for the Giants. Bryant is 4-for-7 with a walk lifetime against the junk-balling veteran, but he has yet to record a extra-base hit. I’m calling for that to change immediately as KB either doubles or homers in his first at-bat back.
In order to accommodate Bryant’s return, the Cubs optioned David Bote back to AAA Iowa. Well, that’s what has been widely reported and is obviously the case; MLB.com’s transactions page was not updated as of post time. Bote has been a pleasant surprise this season as the Cubs’ go-to position player when injuries dictate a call-up. He’s slashed .300/.388/.425 with a 116 wRC+ and has played a solid third base.
But even a good stick and decent versatility — he played a little first and second base as well — there’s really no room for Bote on the roster outside of September expansion. Maddon likened him to Ben Zobrist and he seems like a guy you’d love to have around, but he’s blocked in a big way at several positions.
There have been talks that the Blue Jays were scouting Bote, among other I-Cubs players, though that may have been due diligence as they ready to move lefty starter JA Happ. Other teams have certainly taken note of Bote’s production as well, so it’s entirely possible that his best shot at an MLB career is somewhere other than Chicago.
For now, however, he’ll head back to Des Moines and stay ready for the next phone call and his next chance to help the Cubs.