Former USD star Bryant returns to San Diego

Former USD star Bryant returns to San Diego

SAN DIEGO -- Look how far Kris Bryant has come since he faced James Shields in his Major League debut on April 17. In that game at Wrigley Field, Bryant struck out three times against the Padres' right-hander.

"Obviously, my first game against him wasn't how you draw it up, but I learned from it," Bryant said prior to his rematch at Petco Park. "It was good to see a pitcher like that my first game. He's an awesome pitcher."

On Tuesday night, Shields struck out Bryant in the first but the rookie grounded out in the third and singled in the sixth, as the Cubs fell, 4-3, to the Padres.

Bryant committed one of three Chicago errors, and all three miscues led to unearned runs. In the San Diego fifth, he fielded Justin Upton's grounder and overthrew first baseman Anthony Rizzo. Upton then scored on Yangervis Solarte's single to right.

Upton reaches on Bryant's error

"They've been so good and outstanding on defense," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "To have three really pedestrian plays beat us, it's tough."

There was a lot of hoopla at Petco Park on Tuesday for Bryant, who was back in the city where he played collegiately at the University of San Diego. A large contingent from USD, including his college coach Rich Hill, were in attendance, and Bryant's father Mike was on the field, wearing his son's No. 17 Cubs jersey.

Mike Bryant isn't the only one who bought a No. 17 jersey. They're everywhere in Chicago.

"It's not overwhelming," Bryant said of the attention he's gotten since his debut. "I know how crazy Cubs fans are and how passionate they are, and I'm glad they're on my side. They're the best fans in baseball. I wouldn't want to have it any other way."

Bryant swipes second

He used to come to games at PETCO Park, buying $5 tickets to sit in the right field upper deck. On Monday, he stopped by the USD campus to say hello. Maddon advised Bryant to say "no" to the many requests from family and friends, but the rookie seemed to be able to handle everything.

"That first day, I think I learned how they're going to go about pitching me," Bryant said. "It was a big learning process. I think I did a good job of adjusting. I'm pleased with the progress I've made."

Bryant ranks among the National League leaders in pitches per plate appearance and on-base percentage. His single extended his hitting streak to eight games, during which he's batting .423 (11-for-26).

This trip gave Bryant time to go to the beach with some of his teammates on Monday.

"My three years at USD were the three best years of my life," Bryant said. "What I miss the most is going to school and having fun with my friends."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.