TEMPE, Ariz. — A security official had to deal with the older woman who jumped onto the top of the dugout as Kris Bryant stopped to sign autographs.
This was late Friday afternoon at Tempe Diablo Stadium in the narrow walkway that leads from the visiting clubhouse. Imagine the over-the-top reaction when Bryant gets to Wrigley Field.
Bryant crushed a two-run homer in his first Cactus League at-bat, showing why the Cubs drafted him No. 2 overall last year. For Cubs fans waiting for the future to get here, this was the highlight from a 15-3 loss to the Los Angeles Angels.
“I’ve just been blessed with power,” Bryant said, “and I’m putting it to use.”
There were 4,044 witnesses in Tempe, plus a Fox Sports West audience and a clip that could go viral online. Bryant fouled off two 3-2 pitches from Angels right-hander Jarrett Grube with two outs in the seventh inning before hammering a slider. It soared over the fence, just to the left of the green batter’s eye that’s 420 feet dead center.
“I was actually talking to Albert (Almora) in the dugout,” Bryant said. “I think I swung at a curveball that would have been in the dirt. I told him I’m happy I swung at that, because then I wouldn’t have got that homer. But it was a good first at-bat, and all the nerves are gone now.”
The seventh inning became the coming attractions. Almora — the first player drafted by the Theo Epstein administration in 2012 — doubled and scored on Bryant’s big swing. Arismendy Alcantara, Jorge Soler, Brett Jackson and Javier Baez got at-bats during that sequence.
“It was kind of cool,” Bryant said. “Hopefully, we can be doing that a lot in the future.”
Bryant, 22, will begin this season at Double-A Tennessee and could be at Clark and Addison by 2015.
At this time last year, Bryant started moving up the draft board as a 6-foot-5-inch, 215-pound third baseman at the University of San Diego. Between college, three stops in the minor-league system and an MVP run through the Arizona Fall League, he hit 46 homers and drove in 111 runs in 118 games last year. Through it all, Cubs officials have been impressed by his natural composure.
“It’s just a game,” Bryant said. “You go out there and have fun and don’t put pressure on yourself. Just go out there with a smile on your face, and good things usually come from that.”