MESA, Ariz. -- It's the first major league spring training camp for Kris Bryant, who couldn't avoid the spotlight Sunday morning as he was greeted by boxes of new equipment at his locker and veteran pitcher Jeff Samardzija stopped by to welcome him.
Regardless of Bryant's preference to stay in the background, his instant success in the minor leagues last summer and the Cubs' high hopes will result in him getting much attention as the veterans who will arrive later this week.
"I've never been the type to like all the attention," Bryant said while stacking a large supply of shiny bats atop his locker. "There are a lot of guys here who have been here for a while, and the focus should be on them. I haven't proven myself yet. I'm out here trying to get better, and I will do that."
In addition dealing with the spotlight that comes with being the No. 2 overall pick in the 2013 draft, Bryant must attempt to show team officials he can play defense well enough to stay at third base, his preferred position, despite speculation that he eventually could move to the outfield.
"I've been playing third my whole life, and growing up I've also played some outfield, so it's not completely foreign to me," Bryant said. "I'll play wherever the coach tells me to play.
"If they tell me to (work out in the outfield), I will."
Manager Rick Renteria welcomes that attitude as he looks to help Bryant and fellow top prospects Javier Baez, Albert Almora and Jorge Soler -- all of whom will start the season in the minors -- prepare to handle the hype and the work ahead.
"I think it behooves us as coaches ... to ease them into it," Renteria said of the prospects. And help them get comfortable with all the attention they're going to receive."
Renteria said he can relate to the scrutiny after reporting to rookie ball in 1980 as a first-round pick of the Pirates.
"I remember the first question that was asked me was, 'When do you expect to be in the big leagues?' " Renteria said. "I didn't have that crystal ball. And even if I did, I would have missed the mark."
Renteria hopes the tone will be set in spring training from veterans to prospects with the smallest nuances, such as players wearing spikes instead of turf shoes or tennis shoes during infield drills.
"It's not necessarily things out of the ordinary," Renteria said. "But maybe things we've gotten away from in general in the game."
Bryant's locker is well-stocked with spikes, so proper shoes won't be a problem. His drive likely won't be either as he is expected to start the season at Double-A Tennessee.
"You can always get better in this game," Bryant said. "I'm a perfectionist. Defense, I want to work on that. Hopefully I stay at third base. But you definitely can get better in all areas of your game."
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