Cubs start Kris Bryant in center field with Dexter Fowler out

PITTSBURGH -- After playing an inning in center field during Wednesday's 4-3 loss to the Pirates, Cubs rookie Kris Bryant started there in Thursday's matinee, which Chicago lost 5-4.

Bryant went 0-for-3 with a walk and an RBI in the game, in which the Cubs blew a three-run lead as the Pirates earned a split of the four-game series.

"Third base is obviously my first position and the position I want to be better at," Bryant said Thursday morning. "I'm here to fill that hole when it's needed. Dexter will be back soon."

"Third base is obviously my first position and the position I want to be better at. I'm here to fill that hole when it's needed."
Kris Bryant

Usual center fielder Dexter Fowler left Wednesday's game after tweaking his right groin on a bunt in the first inning. After outfielder Chris Coghlan was pinch hit for later in the contest, Bryant moved from third base to center field, a position he played some in college. He caught a routine fly ball for his lone putout.

"That's the position he's most comfortable with in the outfield," manager Joe Maddon said.

Fowler was available to pinch hit Thursday, but Maddon elected not to start him, so Bryant played center while Jonathan Herrera was at third base. Chris Denorfia played left field and led off against Pirates lefty Jeff Locke.

If the Cubs had tied the game or took the lead in the ninth inning Wednesday, Bryant would have moved from center field to first base, as there was a pinch runner for Anthony Rizzo in the ninth. Bryant played first base in college as well.

"It would have been cool to play three positions in one game," Bryant said.

Bryant was reminded that center field was the position of greats like Willie Mays and former MVP Andrew McCutchen of the Pirates.

"Don't even put me in the same sentence," he laughed. "Obviously it's not my position. I'll have fun with it."

Bryant is hitting .360 with a .515 on-base percentage after seven big league games. He has yet to hit his first major league home run after leading the minors last season with 43 as well as all spring hitters with nine.