Kris Bryant gives Red Sox fans someone to root for the this year's Home Run Derby. (David Banks/Getty Images)

Kris Bryant provides Red Sox connection in Home Run Derby

Ryan Hannable
July 13, 2015 - 2:30 pm

CINCINNATI -- Red Sox fans looking for a rooting interest in this year's Home Run Derby, look no further than Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant. The 23-year-old has taken the game by storm this year, as he was called up to the majors on April 17 and has hit .269 with 12 homers and 51 RBIs in his first 78 major league games. Bryant will have his dad, Mike, be his pitcher in the derby Tuesday night. Mike, who graduated from UMass-Lowell, was the Red Sox' ninth-round pick in the 1980 draft, but didn't make it past A-ball. Just over 35 years later, Mike will finally make it to the big leagues on the biggest of stages. "Home run derby's I think are something you grow up watching as a kid and wanting to be apart of," Kris said. "I always talked to my dad about that growing up and he always said, 'If you're ever in one, I'd like to throw to you.' Doing a lot for him and a lot for myself -- the smiles and just enjoying it. We're going to have a lot of fun tonight." Mike has always been a major part of Kris' baseball career, even selling the family's patio furniture store so he could get job that would allow him to coach Kris' youth teams. "He's probably more excited than anybody out there tonight," Kris said. "It will he nice for him just to see the smile on his face and his excitement and enjoying it. It's going to be a really special nice for us." Bryant's mom, Susie, grew up and lived in Massachusetts before the family moved out to Las Vegas, so Bryant naturally grew up rooting for the Red Sox. He was the No. 2 overall pick by the Cubs in the 2013 draft, with another former Red Sox, Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein, eventually signing him to a $6.7 million signing bonus. "I was a Red Sox fan growing up," Kris said. "I guess I was kind of forced into rooting for them because my dad liked them. I grew up watching David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez, who actually is a coach in our organization now, so it's pretty cool to pick his brain and stand side-by-side with him." While Mike surely wanted his big league debut to come back during his playing days, Tuesday night is certainly not a bad way to do it.