Bryant: Covering strike zone, repeat title top of mind

Bryant: Covering strike zone, repeat title top of mind

MESA, Ariz. -- Kris Bryant is so trendy, some of the sons of his Cubs teammates are asking to get their hair cut like the reigning National League Most Valuable Player Award winner. Bryant just laughs at the young copycats.

"Jake's wife sent my wife the picture last night [of Arrieta's son, Cooper], and I said, 'That's so cool,'" Bryant said Tuesday. "It's pretty cool -- 'A Kris Bryant, please.'"

Bryant's focus has been on finding the swing he had in 2014 when he won Minor League Player of the Year. He's also a little nervous about whether he'll be able to wrestle his World Series ring from his dad, Mike.

On Sunday, Bryant smacked his second spring homer, lining a ball to right field. In 2014, Bryant estimates he hit 28 of his 43 home runs to right.

"It was a pitch away, and instead of just getting singles on those or whatever, I want to be able to hit those over the fence," Bryant said of the homer. "It felt really good. ... It's what I've done in the past and it's coming back to me.

"If I can do that, I'll feel really good heading into the year," he said. "Hopefully, I get a couple more pitches out there and hit them."

If Bryant can do that, manager Joe Maddon says, it'll be tougher to pitch to him.

"You really want to go up there and be the toughest out you can possibly be," Bryant said. "If there was a spot heading into 2015, pitches up in the zone, I'd foul off, and last year, I did really well covering that hole up. If I can continue to improve and cover all areas of the strike zone, it gives me a whole lot of confidence heading up to the plate. That one [Sunday] felt really good."

It hasn't sunk in that Bryant won the MVP honors. He's been more excited about the Cubs' first World Series championship since 1908.

"It's kind of nice that a World Series trophy overshadows that," he said of the MVP award. "That was more of my focus this whole offseason -- I was thinking about how much fun we had.

"It never really has hit me that I won the award," he said. "Not many people get to do that, so I should feel very proud of myself for that. I was more concerned about what we did as a team and waiting for my World Series ring and how exciting that's going to be."

Bryant focused on repeating

The Cubs will get their rings on April 12 in a ceremony at Wrigley Field. His father will be likely be there.

"My dad is fighting with me, saying he wants to wear it for a whole year straight," Bryant said of his ring. "I said, 'Dad, you can't do that. Hopefully, I can find you a replica.'"

Of course, the Cubs could always win another World Series.

"I want to be able to add many World Series rings to my collection and hopefully I play a long time and get a chance to do it again," Bryant said. "We have to take advantage of it right now. We have so many young guys and a good group of talent and we see something special that can go on for many years here. That's our attitude, we want to take full advantage of it and head out this year with the same attitude we had last year.

"One [championship] in 108 [years] sounds cool, but two in 109 sounds pretty cool, too, so hopefully we can do that."

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.