Chicago Cubs: Kris Bryant returns to Vegas, Cubs drop Mets 5-1

Mar 27, 2016; Mesa, AZ, USA; Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant (17) smiles in the dugout during the third inning against the Seattle Mariners at Sloan Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 27, 2016; Mesa, AZ, USA; Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant (17) smiles in the dugout during the third inning against the Seattle Mariners at Sloan Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports /
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With Cactus League play officially in the books, Joe Maddon and the Chicago Cubs packed their things and made their way to Las Vegas. The same city that produced the league’s brightest stars in Joey Gallo, Bryce Harper, and 2015 N.L. Rookie of the Year winner, Kris Bryant.

Last season, the Chicago Cubs looked as if they were on their way to breaking the curse. After finishing the regular season with the third-best record in the league and eliminating their N.L. Central rivals from the postseason, they found themselves eight games away from a World Series title.

The match-up for the National League Championship Series was set. You have the New York Mets who went out and acquired outfielder Yoenis Cespedes to help provide firepower in their lineup. Not to mention, their starting rotation featuring Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom.

People were wonderful how New York’s rotation would fare against a lineup that hammered seven home runs in one single postseason game against the St. Louis Cardinals. And in case you forgot, that just so happened to be a record. While fans were expecting the Cubs to square off against the Kansas City Royals in the World Series, things didn’t quite work out that way.

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Second baseman Daniel Murphy put that team on his shoulders, slaughtering Cubs pitchers including Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta. Which is something that wasn’t expected. He did, however, pick apart Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw during their divisional series.

It felt like one minute the Cubs were on top of the world, then the next thing we all know, they were down and out for the count. A Cinderella story type season came to an end, leaving not only Cubs fans hungry but the players as well.

Now they enter the new campaign as the favorites to win it all. And Kris Bryant, the 24-year-old phenom, is a key piece to this club’s success following his debut last April. In his return to Las Vegas, facing the team that cut his rookie journey short.

Shortly after Ben Zobrist tied things up with an RBI single to right field in the top of the fifth, Bryant drove in the go-ahead run with an RBI single of his own.

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Maddon penciled in Bryant as the starter in right field where he went 1-for-2 until he was replaced by prospect Albert Almora. Almora is another young star who is waiting to make his big league debut but that may not happen right away. There’s a chance he could be called up once the rosters expand in September but isn’t expected to become a starter for another year or two.

For right now, veteran switch-hitter Dexter Fowler is holding things down in center field.