Ian Happ on Kris Bryant opening up: 'He's looking to better himself'

Happ understands Bryant's desire to recapture his old joy in baseball.

(670 The Score) Ian Happ heard Cubs teammate Kris Bryant's recent comments about trying to rediscover his old joy in baseball and understood them well.

On the Barstool Sports "Red Line Radio" podcast last week, Bryant was open and honest in explaining how he has struggled to find the fun he once had in the game. Not surprisingly, it led to much external discussion. Some completely understood where Bryant was coming from. Bryant's comments were met with frustration by other fans, who weren't as willing to accept the human nature of baseball. For his part, Happ knew exactly what Bryant meant and was proud of him for opening up.

"There's pressures and things that go into every job," Happ said on the Bernstein & Rahimi Show on Thursday morning. "Nobody would have that reaction if it was a more normal job, if it was a more normal high-pressure situation job. But everybody goes through it. If Kris is willing to be that open and honest with people and fans, he shouldn't be criminalized for that. We shouldn't put him on display and write articles about how terrible it is that he's not having fun anymore. He's being open and honest.

"He's looking to better himself. And that's a positive thing. It's a positive thing that he's willing and able to address those issues because a lot of us would shut them down and not admit that they're happening. It takes a big person, it takes a very strong and a very mentally tough person to address it, to talk about it and to be very open about it."

Bryant's comments came after an injury-plagued 2020 season in which he hit .206 with four homers, 11 RBIs and a .644 OPS in 34 games. Happ has been in a similar position in struggling before. The Cubs sent him to Triple-A Iowa prior to the 2019 season, hoping he could improve his plate approach after an inconsistent campaign in 2018. For Happ, the challenge from the Cubs organization tested him mentally.

"I can tell you from experience, when you feel like you stink at your job, you're not going to be having fun," Happ said. "It doesn't matter if you're in the big leagues or not. In 2018, I struggled quite a bit throughout the year in different spurts. There's a lot of times during that season where it really felt like a job. It felt very challenging to try to pull yourself out of that rut and try to figure out what's going on.

"It is a very humbling game that will always bring you back down."

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