Bryant eager to take over at third base on North Side

Cubs' top prospect begins camp with an opportunity to be the Opening Day third baseman

Bryant eager to take over at third base on North Side

MESA, Ariz. -- Could Kris Bryant be the Cubs' Opening Day third baseman?

It's possible.

"Anyone in camp can make the team -- that's why they're here," Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said Thursday.

Bryant, who batted .325, with 43 home runs and 110 RBIs at Double-A and Triple-A combined last season to earn Minor League Player of the Year honors, has said his goal is to make the decision hard on the Cubs' front office. There is the question of when the Cubs want to start Bryant's service time clock.

When Epstein meets with the 23-year-old infielder prior to the start of camp, Bryant will hear what he needs to do.

"In Kris' case, we see him as really, really close to the big leagues," Epstein said. "He's a really talented player and had a phenomenal year last year. When we sit down with the players, we also identify the areas where they need to continue to work. It won't be news to Kris -- he has an individualized player plan the way all our players do."

One area the Cubs want to see improvement is Bryant's defense at third base. He's been working on it. Since he arrived in Mesa -- well before Tuesday's report date for position players -- Bryant has been taking grounders at third on a half field.

"He's coming to camp to work, he's a great kid, he's here early -- no surprise there," Epstein said. "We love everything about him. He's got his work ahead of him. We'll see where we are at the end of Spring Training."

Carrie Muskat has been the Cubs beat reporter for since 2001 and has been covering the club since 1987.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.