Kris Bryant is no stranger to slow starts, though fans tend to forget that. He didn’t hit his first career homer until his 21st game in 2015, then opened the 2016 season going 14-for-60 (.233) with more than twice as many strikeouts (13) as walks (6). Given the long layoff, during which he became a father, it’s understandable that his timing might be a little off.
The former MVP came into Monday’s game batting .120 with a .401 OPS and an anemic 25 wRC+, and he’d also had two precautionary days off as a result of what the Cubs called gastrointestinal issues. Not only is that one of the key symptoms of COVID-19, but it’s not super fun to participate in heavy physical activity with a case of bubbleguts.
Bryant subsequently tested negative and was back at the ballpark Monday looking to improve on his early output. He’d actually been making decent contact and seemed to be seeing the ball well, so there was a sense that he just needed a couple of hits to fall. That happened right out of the chute when his liner snuck under Brett Phillips’ glove for a leadoff double.
Then, with the Cubs holding the slimmest possible lead in the bottom of the 7th, Bryant pounced on a first-pitch cutter from Ian Kennedy for his first homer of the season.
Not one of his trademark moonshots, the ball got just enough help from the video board in left to cut through the wind and double the Cubs’ lead. Good thing he’s got that dad strength working for him.
“Maybe lifting up the baby, that was kinda my workout,” Bryant told Marquee’s Taylor McGregor after the game.
But as the smiling slugger went on to explain, there was more to his big hit than tossing his little chunkster around.
“Actually, before I left — obviously he doesn’t understand anything I say — but I told him I was gonna hit him a home run,” Bryant admitted. “First time I’ve done that to really anybody in my life, so maybe I should keep doing that.”
— Marquee Sports Network (@WatchMarquee) August 4, 2020
Yes, you should keep doing that.