By Bruce Levine-
MESA, Ariz. (CBS) — Although 23-year-old phenom Kris Bryant will compete for the Cubs’ third-base job this spring, learning another position will be a part of his experience in Mesa.READ MORE: Chicago Lifting Mask Mandate For Fully Vaccinated People In Most Cases
Bryant had a meeting with management and new manager Joe Maddon on Monday. He was asked to keep an open mind about learning a second defensive position in the outfield. This type of thinking has been a part of the Theo Epstein management philosophy and Maddon’s as well.
“By moving players around, you can take the pressure off of their bat,” Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said. “I think Joe uses that as a mental edge with the players as well.”
Bryant has been dominant in his minor-league experience on offense but has some things to accomplish on defense.
“I had my first meeting with Kris today,” Maddon said. “He was very impressive and very mature for a kid of 23. He understands what he is doing really well. He is accepting of working in the outfield, very excepting of that.”
The Cubs’ No. 1 pick in 2013, Bryant still thinks of himself as a third baseman but more importantly a team player.READ MORE: COVID-19 In Illinois: Infection Rate Continues To Drop; State Reports Fewest Hospitalizations In More Than 6 Weeks
“If you ask him, he would say he prefers to play third base,” Maddon said. “As a team member, he is prepared to go to the outfield.”
Maddon planted the seed with Bryant in his on- on-one meeting Monday, but Bryant had been told by the organization that a switch or add-on position was possible going forward.
“What you do is speak openly about this in the beginning,” Maddon said. “Then you plan to work with him during spring training. He will probably be less comfortable in the outfield as opposed to third base. You just try to be honest because this might open up more opportunities as you move down the road.”
Maddon said he likes to tell the players of his ideas and then use the media to hammer home his point after the get-together.
“I hate meetings, but we do them here, and after the All-Star break and before the playoffs,” he said. “The kids read and listen to the media stuff. I just confirm our talks by filling in the media and they can hammer it home for me. You must be consistent with your message.”
This new task will give Bryant something else to work on at Triple-A to start the season. He most likely will spend at least 21 days in Iowa to confirm another year of service-time control for the Cubs. This is done by most all clubs with young stars who have agents looking forward to six-year free agent status.MORE NEWS: Stimulus Check Latest: Is A Fourth Relief Payment Coming?
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.