Bryant excited to play for hometown crowd

MESA, Ariz. -- It wasn't long ago when Chicago Cubs third base prospect Kris Bryant was attending major league exhibition games in his hometown of Las Vegas.

Now he gets to play in them.

"It's cool," Bryant said. "I grew up going to those games and now maybe there's a kid in the stands coming to watch us play."

Even though he was sent down to minor league camp recently, Bryant will travel with the big-leaguers to Las Vegas this weekend as the Cubs play the New York Mets on Saturday and Sunday, a tradition that's gone on for several years.

"When I was in high school I went to the Cubs/Sox game there, and I actually saw Josh Vitters play there," Bryant said.

That was in 2008 when Vitters was the hot prospect having been drafted No. 3 overall the previous June. Now it's Bryant who has all eyes on him as the No. 2 pick last summer. He and his friends attended in a suite that day to watch Vitters and the Cubs, now he thinks those same friends will be in the same suite watching him now.

"I get to play for the Cubs in my hometown which is pretty cool," he said. "I'm happy they're letting me go. Should be a fun weekend."

He won't start in Saturday's game but should on Sunday. Either way, his family is excited that he's coming home.

"I'm so proud of him," his father Mike said by phone. "We all are. We'll have friends and family there to see him then go out to dinner."

The younger Bryant wouldn't mind a home-cooked meal but mostly he'll be savoring his final days with the big-league club until next spring -- unless he makes it to Wrigley Field this season. That's highly unlikely.

"I'm having a blast," Bryant said of his first spring training.

So are his parents.

"Either way I got to see my boy in the big leagues for 3 weeks," Mike said. "I couldn't be more proud."

As long as the Cubs continue going to Las Vegas for exhibition games each spring Bryant is hopeful this is the first of many trips home.

"It'll be cool they don't have to come see me play, I'm coming to them," he said.