The Chicago Cubs want to get third baseman Kris Bryant as many at-bats as possible by using him in the leadoff spot this season.
“When you talk about putting the best players in baseball at the top of the order, that’s our best player, and I want to put him at the top,” new Cubs manager David Ross told reporters Wednesday. “He’s on board. I’m on board. It’s something I’ve been thinking about long and hard, and I’m excited about it. ... I’m super excited about it.”
Bryant has played in more than 700 games and started 696 of them, but he has only been the Cubs’ leadoff hitter in seven games. He has a .387 on-base percentage in the role, with a .321 batting average in 28 at-bats.
“I said, ‘I’m here to do whatever you want,’” Bryant said. “If you need me to be that guy for you, I’m your guy. I think I have the right mindset, because I’ve always been the type to say, ‘Give me that fifth at-bat because I want it.’”
—Oakland Athletics right-hander Mike Fiers isn’t interested in receiving extra security protection through the 2020 season, he told The Athletic.
Fiers divulged details about how the Houston Astros used a sign-stealing system during the 2017 season last November, leading to sanctions against his former club and drawing criticism in some corners for violating the “unwritten rules” of baseball.
“I’m not asking for extra security,” Fiers told The Athletic. “I’m here to play baseball and I can defend myself, if anything. We do have National League games, and I’m going to have to get into the box (to hit) just like everybody else. It’s part of the game. If they decide to throw at me, then they throw at me. There’s nothing much you can do about it.”
—Giancarlo Stanton thought about the prospect of knowing what pitches were coming via illegal sign stealing and realized how he could have used it to his advantage.
“If I knew what was coming in ‘17, I probably would have hit 80-plus home runs,” Stanton told reporters at the New York Yankees spring training base in Tampa.
Stanton hit a major-league-leading 59 homers in 2017 when he was named National League MVP while playing for the Miami Marlins — the most home runs in the major leagues since 2001. He made the comment while expressing his opinion that the sign-stealing scandal involving the Astros is a bad look, especially with the way Houston has handled it publicly.
—Pittsburgh Pirates utility man Pablo Reyes was suspended by Major League Baseball for 80 games after testing positive for the banned performance-enhancing substance Boldenone.
Reyes, 26, played in 71 games for the Pirates last season at six different positions, but he batted just .203 with two home runs and 19 RBIs in 143 at-bats. The Pirates designated Reyes for assignment last month, and he subsequently was outrighted to Triple-A Indianapolis after he cleared waivers.
Reyes did bat .293 with three home runs in 2018 while playing 18 games in his introduction to the major leagues.
—Field Level Media