PITTSBURGH -- After playing an inning in center field during Wednesday's 4-3 loss to the Pirates, Chicago Cubs rookie Kris Bryant will start there for Thursday's matinee.
"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."
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 is available to pinch hit Thursday, but Maddon elected not to start him, so Bryant will play center while Jonathan Herrera will play third base. Chris Denorfia will play left field and lead 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 forAnthony Rizzoin the ninth. Bryant played first 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 .409 with a .552 on-base percentage in six 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.