Season debuts haven't been kind to Bryant

Reigning NL MVP whiffed 5 times in first pro game

Season debuts haven't been kind to Bryant

ST. LOUIS -- In July 2013, when Kris Bryant made his professional debut for short-season Class A Boise, he struck out in all five at-bats. In his Major League debut with the Cubs on April 17, 2015, he was 0-for-4 with three whiffs. Last year, he went 0-for-3, and fanned twice. In the Cubs' season opener Sunday night, he struck out three times and was hitless.

"I'm not a big debut-er," Bryant said before going 0-for-5 in Tuesday's 2-1 win.

Obviously, Bryant has been able to bounce back. He won Minor League Player of the Year honors in 2014, was the National League Rookie of the Year in '15, and last year, won the NL Most Valuable Player Award. He also could laugh at the rough starts. What was he thinking about his debut with Boise?

"That it could only go up from there," Bryant said. "That's obviously not the way you want to start your professional career. Maybe it's a good thing because it can only get better."

IT Top 50: Kris Bryant

And don't think Bryant trashes his hotel room after a bad game.

"I'm frustrated after good games," he said. "That's what drives me. When I do something good, there's always something I can do better. We're going through this ride, hopefully, another 180-plus games. It's a grind and we're already in grind mode."

Maybe he should consider skipping the 2018 season opener?

"Maybe," Bryant said, but then thought about that. "I'm going to keep trying my hardest [next time]."

Cardinals starter Carlos Martinez struck Bryant out in the first inning on a 100-mph fastball. Bryant knows because he peeked at the scoreboard to see the radar gun reading.

Martinez strikes out Bryant

"It's not fair when a guy throws 100 mph the first game," Bryant said. "You should tell him to slow it down a little bit."

• Cubs manager Joe Maddon didn't watch "Dancing With the Stars" on Monday, but did see David Ross' performance. The former Cubs catcher, who will throw out a ceremonial first pitch at Wrigley Field on April 12, received enough support to move on to the next round.

"I'm so proud of him -- we all should be proud of him," Maddon said. "We talk about being uncomfortable, and he has to be absolutely uncomfortable doing all that. I've only known him for a couple years and could not be more proud of him. whatever he does after this, this experience will benefit that."

Jon Lester batted eighth Sunday and Jake Arrieta did so Tuesday. Maddon batted his starting pitcher in the No. 8 spot almost exclusively in 2015. Last year, the pitcher batted eighth eight times.

Before 2015, the Cubs hit the pitcher in a spot other than ninth in the batting order once in 15,848 games from 1914-2014. That happened Sept. 8, 2012, at Pittsburgh in a 4-3 Cubs victory. Jeff Samardzija, making his final start of the season, hit eighth in the lineup and earned the complete-game win.

• The Cubs' Minor League affiliates revealed their 2017 rosters on Tuesday, and Thomas Hatch, the team's first pick in the 2016 Draft, will open at Class A Myrtle Beach. Hatch did not pitch in the Minors last year but spent time in the Cubs' instructional league in Arizona.

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. 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.