Bryant Says Hello & Bye Bye in Des Moines Debut
Having waited half a season, I thought as the deluge pounded the car in the Principal Park lot, what’s another hour or so?
When the rain relented and while the grounds crew did its pregame thing I went to check for Superman capes and the like in the Backstop Store. No, the notice of Kris Bryant’s arrival in town had been too short to allow for restocking. Nevertheless, I expect there will be a hastily arranged bobblehead night added to the promo slate ASAP.
The lanky young slugger came to town and took Christian Villanueva’s position and uniform number (19), both. He was slotted 5th in the batting order with guess who hitting right behind him? None other than Josh (JV) Vitters, once a promising top five draft pick and heralded third baseman himself. Doesn’t that seem a very long time ago?
Okay, so Bryant fanned his first trip, when he got a semi-standing O from those in the crowd that was smaller than it would have been were it not for the storm that delayed the proceedings. Basically everyone who knew the backstory was on their feet in welcome and anticipation. Routine fly outs in his next two trips were still opportunities to observe. He’s Kingmanesque in stature, though better-looking and more gracious. He digs in with a wide base that spans most of the batter’s box. I’m no mechanic but it appears that most of what happens when he uncoils is from the hips up. Apparently he’s already capable of adjustments, even mid-AB. When he came up for the fourth time in the 7th he worked an 0-2 count full before doing what’s most expected of him. I swear he cut down his swing on the shot that looked like a golfer’s power fade off his bat as it arced to straightaway right. It was gone by plenty into a quasi-SRO area of the park that features a fountain on hot days. When the ball landed it was scurried after like candy tossed from a parade float. The flag on the centerfield pole was limp. There are more where that came from. The word towering will be frequently associated with his blows even though it didn’t apply in this case.
Bryant looks out of place at third but not because he’s awkward there. He just doesn’t fit the profile. I don’t know where but I expect he will be in the C-Cubs’ opening day lineup next year, don’t you, the first of the brood to force his way in. Betcha his Wrigley debut happens in September. This kid has polish. Maybe he and his old man are a contemporary Mutt & Mickey story in the making set in San Diego instead of the Oklahoma zinc mines and, hopefully, minus the boozy subplot.
So far, so good…
Castillo was announced but scratched, presumably due to the soggy conditions. Alcantara was posted in CF (again) and glided about quite nimbly out there as his utility training continues. Wada’s got that familiar hesitancy that seems characteristic of the Japanese windups and he’s no bigger than a good-sized adolescent but he’s crafty and also bunted for a hit last night; one of those pitchers who gets his uniform dirty and is fun to watch @ work. Nothing wrong with Baez, by the way, that some maturity can’t fix. He eats his AB’s in big bites instead of nibbling at them and in the field he’s pretty slick if not always workmanlike. Patience in the day-to-day plying of his trade will probably be the last piece of the puzzle that comes to him.