2016 World Series Champ Kris Bryant Makes Rehab Starts Against Bees
SALT LAKE CITY – “This is gonna be a tough play… BRYANT! The Cubs, win the World Series!!!” – Joe Buck, 2016 World Series final out.
Much has changed for Kris Bryant since that fateful night in November 2016 when he collected a roller off the bat of Cleveland Indian pinch-hitter Michael Martinez and fired a throw to Anthony Rizzo. The final out of an epic World Series game seven where 17-minutes of rain in extra innings washed away 108-years of disappointment.
Blame it on injuries, underperformance or simply the Chicago core not progressing as anticipated, but 2016 would be the high water mark of Bryant’s Cub career.
More than five years later, with four All-Star appearances and a National League MVP on his resume, Bryant and the Cubs parted ways. After failing to reach a deal on a contract extension, Chicago dealt Bryant to the San Francisco Giants at the 2021 trade deadline for two prospects.
It was a short lived but successful stint in the Bay Area for Bryant as he helped the Giants to 107 wins and the NL West crown. San Francisco would lose a Divisional Series matchup against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Bryant entered free agency following the season.
Bryant talked about his first experience being traded, “I think when you play the game long enough, you go through some situations that you just could never expect. Growing up wanting to be a big leaguer and being traded from Chicago, a city that I did a lot of really special things . Then going to in another great city in San Francisco and playing for a team that was winning a lot and had really high expectations.”
Following an extended MLB lockout during the offseason, Bryant inked a seven-year, $182 million with the Colorado Rockies in March.
The former Rookie of the Year was excited to get the lockout over with and sign a fresh contract, “The lockout, obviously you don’t want to see that. That was just not great for for the sport. But landing in a spot like Colorado and a place that, I really love the city and the people there. It’s gone by so fast, but it’s been really fun.”
After just 15 games with the Rockies, Bryant hit the injured list due to a sore lower back.
No stranger to nagging injuries, Bryant understands that they are a part of the game. “I mean, it’s not fun to go out there and feel certain things that limit you, but that’s part of the game too. As much as you want to be an MVP or All Star every year, sometimes it just doesn’t happen. But in those times you learn from those those seasons where maybe your statistics weren’t right or your body wasn’t right.”
Three weeks after initially going on the disabled list, Bryant had healed to the point that Colorado was able to send him on a rehab stint with their Triple-A affiliate Albuquerque Isotopes.
As luck would have it, Bryant’s rehab assignment coincided with an Isotope road trip to Utah where they would play the Salt Lake Bees.
The two-game stop in Salt Lake wasn’t Bryant’s first experience in the state. As a teenager, Bryant played with the Utah Marshalls.
Bryant spoke glowingly of his time in Utah, “I spent a summer here playing at Gates Field (Kearns High School). One of my favorite summers of playing baseball was was spent here. I’ve always told my wife and my family that Salt Lake and Denver are two of my favorite cities because they are very similar. High altitude, you get the mountains right there. I just love this city.”
Asked what he wanted to get out of this rehab assignment, Bryant talked about the importance of simply being on his feet, “Sometimes when you’re just standing out there for hours, it’s putting a lot of pressure on your back and compressing it. Just being on my feet in a baseball game and with fans here. Hopefully I can get some hits too, that’d be really cool. But the main focus is you want to always want to feel better.”
Barring any setbacks, the Rockies are expected to activate Bryant from the IL following Wednesday mornings game. Bryant played left field once, DHing in his second game with Albuquerque. He finished 2-7 at the plate with a double against Bees pitching.
Salt Lake won the first two games of the series, topping the Isotopes 3-1 on Monday night before an 8-0 Wednesday day game.
The Bees and Isotopes have four games remaining in the six game series. First pitch for Thursday-Saturday will be 6:35 p.m. (MST) with a Sunday afternoon matinee scheduled for 1:05 p.m. (MST) to wrap up the series. Bees tickets can be purchased at slbees.com.