Cleat Geeks

Wrigley Weekly Wrap-up

JasonHeyward

The Cubs will face their biggest rival and current Cubs right fielder Jason Heyward’s former team, the St. Louis Cardinals. The three-game series begins Monday night. “If you ask me about the rivalry this year, I feel like I’m on the side that has a lot of work to do as far as being established in the playoffs,” Heyward said. “They’ve got World Series championships. They’ve got division titles. We want to be established as a group in Chicago.” But even after hearing stories about Cardinals fans burning his jersey, Heyward said he hasn’t met any of those people yet. “Every St. Louis fan I’ve seen in person has gone out of their way to be nice and say, ‘Thank you for last year. I wish you nothing but the best, except against (the Cardinals),'” he said. “Something like that doesn’t get a lot of attention.” After five seasons with the Braves, Heyward suited up for 158 games with the Cardinals last year, including four against the Cubs in the NLDS. He said he held no ill will toward the Cubs during his time in St. Louis. It’ll be exciting to see Jason Heyward and John Lackey return to Busch Stadium in Cubbie Blue.

Don’t miss the MLB Headfirst Slide Podcast presented by CleatGeeks.com this Tuesday! The subject will be “Money and MLB” where we will look at; team salary, player salary, and how those two things effect the postseason. Check it out LIVE this Tuesday night at this link https://rabble.tv/broadcast/57146d63da56b72d30a159e5/view.

JavierBaez

On Friday, the Cubs activated Javier Baez off the 15-day disabled list and he was able to see the new clubhouse for the first time this season. “I took a tour around and pretty much got lost,” said Baez, who batted .289 with a home run and four RBIs in 28 games last season. “It’s amazing. Way different.” With Baez back, the Cubs had to say goodbye to Munenori Kawasaki, who was sent to Iowa after going 1-for-2 with a stolen base in two games. Joe Maddon had a glass of wine with Kawasaki Thursday night. “Probably the first time I’ve shared a glass of wine with somebody I was sending back down,” Maddon said. “We toasted each other. It was a great moment. He’s recognized for his entertainment value, but he’s also a really good major-league baseball player. … He is a force multiplier. … He will be back at some point.” Maddon played Baez at second base on Saturday to give Ben Zobrist a day off and then at shortstop on Sunday, to give Addison Russell a day off.

KB1

Kris Bryant has been in Major League Baseball for exactly one year now and what a year it’s been. Bryant was drafted by the Cubs with the second overall pick in the 2013 MLB Draft and he made his major league debut on April 17th, 2015. In that game, Kris went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts against the San Diego Padres. One year later, before the afternoon game against the Colorado Rockies, Bryant received his MLB Players Choice Award for National League Outstanding Rookie. The trophy should look good next to the National League Rookie of the Year trophy Bryant won last fall. Bryant’s path to the big leagues wasn’t an easy one. After leading all of baseball in home runs in last year’s spring training, he was left off of the Cubs’ Opening Day roster, instead starting the season in Triple-A Iowa. That was mainly due to service time rules that stated if Bryant spent 12 days in the minor leagues, the Cubs would receive another year of club control on his contract. Instead of letting that issue get to him, Bryant just went out and played baseball. He won the National League Rookie of the Month in May after hitting seven home runs with 22 runs batted in, hit his first grand slam in June, and played in his first All-Star game in July. Bryant said that adjusting to life in the majors really wasn’t that difficult. “I don’t feel any different than I would have growing up. I’m out there just playing in front of more people on an awesome field,” he said. As Bryant’s season continued, so did the pressure, especially as the Cubs got into playoff contention. The Cubs obviously wanted Bryant’s bat in the lineup everyday, which sometimes meant that he would have to play multiple positions to make room for other big bats on the team. “I kind of enjoy it, just playing all over the place. Playing Wiffle ball in the street when I was younger, it was all over. So it’s a lot of fun for me.” Bryant has also become one of baseball’s most marketable players, which shows withKB his many endorsements including his recent deal as a Brand Ambassador with EXPRESS. “I guess that’s one of the things that come along with it. I never in a million years would have thought that [I’d see my face on billboards],” he said. “I’m having a lot of fun with it. I know these guys [are, too]. They don’t give me a hard time. They just show me the selfies with me in it. It’s all in good fun.” While that is all fun, he knows that what he does on the field is the most important thing. Bryant did live up to the hype that surrounded him in his first season, hitting .275 with 26 home runs and 99 runs batted in. As we already know, the Cubs made the playoffs for the first time since 2008, winning the Wild Card game against Pittsburgh and beating the St. Louis Cardinals in four games in the NLDS before being swept by the New York Mets in the National League Championship Series. The expectations are even higher in 2016 and if Kris Bryant is only going to get better, year two may be even more special.

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