Kris Bryant’s face has been plastered all over Wrigleyville since before he had even been called up to the majors. Since then, he’s won the Rookie of the Year and MVP, establishing himself as one of the game’s elite players. Bryant even stepped up as the Cubs’ union rep, but it wasn’t until he suffered through both a shoulder injury and an early playoff exit that he really embraced a desire to speak out with more authority.
“Now I feel like I can say things,” Bryant told The Athletic ($). “I can voice my concerns to Joe [Maddon] or Theo and the team. Rossy was talking to me, he’s like, ‘I love it when you talk more, because people listen to you.’ I like to sit back and listen, but when I have something to say, I’m going to say it.”
I absolutely love that KB is voicing his concerns more openly. Granted, we don’t know how much he did or didn’t speak up in previous seasons, but it’s so cool to know that he’s assuming a leadership role and influencing the team beyond his value on the field.
One of the more noted examples of Bryant “saying things” is the way he shared his shared his thoughts on hitting philosophy during last season’s exit interview. While SNY fallaciously asserted that Bryant and Anthony Rizzo forced Epstein to fire hitting coach Chili Davis, it’s really just a matter of Bryant and his teammates engaging in honest and open interactions with team executives.
Those conversations continued throughout the offseason, with Bryant stopping by the Winter Meetings for a one-on-one with Epstein. The superstar third baseman has continued to share his thoughts about his future and that of the sport throughout spring training, no doubt helping to shape the Cubs’ decisions in the process.
“The only way to respond is the way that everybody here did, with a sense of urgency,” Bryant said. “There were so many games throughout the year where – myself (included) – we could have performed better or had a better attitude about certain rainouts or doubleheaders or stuff like that.
“Sometimes it’s just human nature. Yeah, we’re pissed we’re playing so many games in a row. But I think we learned from that. If that ever happens again, we know the right attitude that we need to have.”
I know the Cubs didn’t bring in many players from outside the organization for a variety of reasons, but it should be encouraging that their core of young players is recognizing areas for improvement. We’re going to see an emphasis on greater urgency and that should include Bryant and others speaking freely and encouraging various changes and improvements.