Back in Chicago, Kris Bryant reflects on his time as a Cub and what the future might hold
Baseball is a sport of failure and if players get too caught up in the negative, they could find themselves lost in a downward spiral.
So they aim to accentuate the positives as much as possible.
Kris Bryant is doing exactly that in regards to his time in Chicago.
As the former MVP returned to Wrigley Field this weekend, he dismissed any notion of hard feelings or ill will toward the Cubs or his time with the organization.
“No disappointment at all,” Bryant said before Friday’s game. “I’ve made the choice to look back on my time here and just smile at it. It was nothing but smiles. There were definitely some harder times, but if you were to tell me when I got drafted I would spend six-and-a-half years here and win a World Series and an MVP and a Rookie of the Year, 4 All-Star Games and tons of great memories, I’d tell you you’re crazy.
“Now I’m sitting here today and it actually did happen to me — for an organization like the Chicago Cubs. Playing in Wrigley Field every single day, that’s amazing.”
The Cubs rolled out a warm welcome for Bryant Friday morning and early afternoon. In addition to the pregame gifts, a large contingent of Cubs fans greeted the Giants bus on Sheffield Ave., outside the right field wall.
After spending seven years in Chicago with this fanbase, Bryant was ready for a crowd but was blown away by the size of the group.
“I didn’t picture that many people waiting out there,” he said. “It was really special. Kind of reminded me of when we got home at 6 in the morning when we won the World Series and there’s people waiting for us. You kinda expected something but not that many people.”
It has been a weird experience for Bryant to come to Chicago and stay in a hotel instead of at home. He was also confused about where exactly to enter the field as a visitor.
But he quickly adjusted through those minor speed bumps.
“This place is home,” he said. “It always will be.”
From the moment he was traded to the Giants on July 30, Bryant had this weekend circled on his calendar.
He had an opportunity to say goodbye to Wrigley Field and take it all in the day before the trade deadline when he and Anthony Rizzo were both out of the lineup for scheduled off-days.
But back then, Bryant was more focused on the uncertainty of the situation than trying to soak it all in. Would he be traded? Where would he be traded? If so, when would he return to Wrigley Field? When would he see these people again?
And on top of all that, the Cubs were starting a series in Washington D.C. against the Nationals on July 30, so Bryant and his teammates had to focus on packing their bags and boarding the team bus to the airport.
“It was just a lot of stress and worry,” Bryant said, reflecting on that final day at Wrigley Field. “You don’t know what’s going to happen. You don’t know if you’re gonna get traded; you don’t know what team you’re going to and there’s all these rumors. I guess it kinda stinks that the last day there wasn’t as enjoyable as you could make it. I guess I kind of expected that, too.
“The stresses of going through trades is not the greatest feeling but I tried my best to soak in all the moments. I’m not very great at it and that was one of the moments I wasn’t very great at.
“But now I’m happy that I’m here and happy that the Giants get a chance to play the Cubs. I looked at the schedule when I got traded. I saw that and I was really excited.”
Bryant acknowledged there is a weight that has been lifted off of his shoulders after the trade. But now instead of fielding trade questions, he’s still asked often about his future — where will he sign this winter?
He is about to hit the free agent market for the first time in his career and will have no shortage of suitors calling about his services in 2022 and beyond.
So could a reunion with the Cubs be in the cards?
“I don’t know,” he said. “It’s a possibility. It always is. Never closing the book on this place. Ever.”