The Kris Bryant era begins in Chicago
“It was fun, and sure I could have done a little better. I feel there were two sides of the ball. I felt like I did well on defense and didn’t come around on hitting, but I helped my team as much as I could. But I just absorbed everything. It was a fun moment, just all the smells and the sounds and playing in front of what was it, 30,000 people? I think that was the biggest crowd I’ve played in front of. They’re all cheering for you. It was just a really cool moment for me.”
—Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, on his MLB debut on Friday. Bryant made a couple of fine defensive plays but finished the game 0-for-4 at the plate with three strikeouts. (Doug Padilla, ESPN)
“I realized what my strengths are. The pitcher can’t throw a strike every time. I think I got out of my zone a little bit that first day, a little anxious, and I told myself to calm down a little bit in the second game and get some pitches to hit. I think it was a pretty good game all around for myself.”
—Bryant, on adjusting after his debut at the plate and reaching base five times on Saturday. (Doug Padilla, ESPN)
“There’s so much video. I don’t know if I can say [what there is]. It’s kinda top secret. It really helps you out a lot, to get a handle of what they’re throwing you in certain counts and what their pitches look like, it gives you that extra boost of confidence when you’re heading up there to hit.”
—Bryant, on the difference between the amount of video at his disposal at the major leagues compared to the video library provided to him at Triple-A.
“For me, I don’t really analyze it too much. I don’t like to watch my at-bats. I kinda go over them in my head, but when you start overanalyzing your video, you’re thinking about everything you’re doing wrong with your swing when half the time it’s not really your swing, it’s what you’re swinging at and what you’re thinking up there. I like to see what the pitcher throws and go with it from there.”
—Bryant, on how much of the video he has utilized so far.
“I don’t think the information coming to the hitters really benefits hitters a whole lot, whether it’s video, data, audio, whatever. There are so few things you can tell a hitter, approach-wise. Maybe get them to narrow their focus, keep their fastball swing loaded as an example. But all of this wonderful information available to the hitters, I think really doesn’t help them a whole lot.”
—Cubs manager Joe Maddon, on the benefits of the sheer volume of data and video available for the players in clubhouses.
“Having been in Tampa Bay for a while, we had the same thing with the ascension of a lot of good young players but with a nice mixture of veterans. So the part that made this all seem believable is yes, the young players are here, but it’s the veterans that had been chosen to be here, too. I do like working with young players a lot. I always have. That’s how I started. It’s exciting. But I also like balance, too. Believe me, man, the conversation with veteran players a lot of times is a lot easier.”
—Maddon, on handling a young club and the arrival of Bryant. (Doug Padilla, ESPN)
Tempers flare in Kansas City
“Lawrie, he knows he did a bad thing in that situation. That’s why Ventura and Herrera” reacted. My whole team supported me in that situation. That’s why I like to play here.”
—Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar, who was on the receiving end of a hard slide by Athletics third baseman Brett Lawrie on Friday, which led to the first of several bench-clearing incidents throughout the weekend’s series at Kauffman Stadium. (Andy McCullough, Kansas City Star)
“I reached out to him [Friday] night in a text message, and he got it. I have the text message. I did reach out to him, and I sent a number of paragraphs and he messaged me back and he didn't really seem to care about my apology to him. He actually said it was stupid and that it was intentional. He actually thought I did it on purpose, and I sent him another message back and said, 'I'm never out to get anyone, man. I've known you since Milwaukee. Every time I see you, we wish each other best of luck.' I'm the one who extended myself out there.”
—Lawrie, on reaching out to Escobar to apologize after Friday’s incident. (Jane Lee, MLB.com)
“No, he don't say nothing. I don't hear nothing from him. Yeah, I'm surprised because when you do a guy like that you say, 'My bad.' He don't say nothing. I don't know why.”
—Escobar, in response to Lawrie’s comments about reaching out to him via text message.
“You don’t throw behind someone and then walk away when you throw 100 miles an hour and say that the next time I face you I’m gonna hit you in the head. That’s some [expletive] and he needs to pay for that.”
—Lawrie, after Royals reliever Kelvin Herrera threw a pitch behind him during Sunday’s game. Herrera could be seen pointing to his head while yelling at Lawrie across the field on his way back to the dugout. After the game, Herrera indicated that he had lost grip on the ball due to rain and that he had been telling Lawrie to “think about it” when pointing at his own head.
“I think I could have done better job of withholding my emotions. I wasn’t too happy with Cain getting hit. I’m tired of seeing him getting hit. There’s nothing else to it. I’m tired of seeing my brothers with bruises.”
“It should’ve been squashed. It should’ve been over. You’re just trying to do your job, but it’s hard, because you see what happened. And that was in the eighth. I played all the way until the eighth inning thinking everything was fine, and then you get into the eighth inning, and one of their guys comes out of the bullpen, and it’s just tough to do your job. If that’s the way they want to approach the game, I guess that’s the way they want to approach the game. It’s just embarrassing. They’ve got seven guys in the bullpen and each of them can touch 100, and I can’t even get in the box and do my job without thinking he can miss with one up and in. There’s no room for that, no doubt.”
“Roberto definitely got me a couple. When you get to two strikes, that’s probably the biggest difference maker when you have a good framer. You can throw a cutter a couple inches off the plate — a really good pitcher’s pitch, people aren’t going to be able to do much with it — and it’s a ball. But, if the guy catches it right, sometimes it’s a strike.”
—Indians starting pitcher Trevor Bauer, on batterymate Roberto Perez’ pitch framing during his first start of the season. Of Bauer’s 11 strikeouts during the start, six were called. (August Fagerstrom, MLB.com)
“It’s a tool that some teams use more than others. From a Cardinals standpoint, I do think it is something that our manager will utilize perhaps more than others. All I’m saying here is you’re trying to optimize your scoring probability. … Fifteen years ago, it felt like one through eight (in the lineup) could leave the ballpark (with a home run). This league, it’s still possible, but it’s not likely. I think the high-level question you’re asking is, with power down does the smaller game matter? I do still think it’s situation by situation, but the overall answer is, to some degree, yes.”
—Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak, on whether the decreased run scoring environment has led to the club bunting more often. (Derrick Goold, St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
“If Bobby Parnell and Vic Black show up tomorrow, Jeurys Familia will still close. It's been a year since Bobby has been out there. If Bobby, when he shows up, shows us the same stuff that we saw a year ago, we will try to get him back in the role he's comfortable with. … Right now, Jeurys Familia has pitched well enough. He is that guy until those other guys show us they're ready for it if we need to make any changes.”
"I think it's good. He went up on the wall last night and just missed one. Twice now in our games, he's gone up and just missed… I think the reputation comes with him a little bit. We've seen a few instances where guys haven't gone first to third where they might've made it. But that reputation is there knowing that he's got a really strong arm and it's really accurate. I think he's comfortable. He's played well."
“I enjoy talking baseball, and that's what this is all about. Enjoying the game of baseball, sitting in the green room watching two or three games, getting on TV and talking about it. It's right up my alley, I think… I'm not concentrating or worrying about reinstatement. I'm worried about working, having fun. This will be fun for me. It won't be like work. That's the way I look at it… I always felt that I had a face for radio.”
“This is probably the first time in my career in April that I've hit the ball this hard. I just have nothing to show for it. Hopefully, I can get the hits going… It's staying positive. This game is a pain. You go out four times, and you get no hits. It's a pain. A couple guys have come up to me and said, 'I can see it in your eyes that you're frustrated.' It's frustrating, but you just have to stay positive. It's a long season.”
“I’ve been waiting for this moment my whole life. I went out there and tried to do too much in those four at-bats. It was good for me to experience that. I felt like I was trying to do a little too much because I was hearing all that stuff. I’m usually pretty good at blocking all that out, and I think as time goes by I’ll get better at it. But it was pretty special to hear that today.”
—Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, on making his major league debut at Wrigley Field and hearing the home crowd cheer for him (David Just, Chicago Sun-Times)
“Our team needs something a little different. I had a lot crazier ones than the one I put up today… Trying to do something different, getting him sparked. He's had better at-bats, but just to get his mind off some things and maybe on something else. Then also, I think he is swinging the bat better. He's just not getting hits. Put him in a little different atmosphere. Hopefully he can get on base for us and have the other guys drive him in.”
—Brewers manager Ron Roenicke, on putting Ryan Braun in the leadoff spot for a game against the Pirates (Todd Rosiak, Journal Sentinel)
“From a defensive perspective, I don't like to give a runner that much space. If people are going to give us that space, under those circumstances, if the ball is even 10 feet away from the catcher, you're going to have a chance to score. That one went all the way back to the wall, and that helped us as lot. That was a big play. That's the nuance of what's going on. I use that word a lot regarding defense — nuance. Everything is not cut and dried out there. It's up to the individual groups to make your little adjustments based on what they're seeing, what they think is important.”
—Cubs manager Joe Maddon, on infielder Jonathan Herrera distracting James Shields by taking a lead halfway down the third-base line when the Padres implemented a full shift on Anthony Rizzo. (Bruce Miles, Daily Herald)