Kris Bryant hadn't played in Double-A since 2014. Tennessee's Southern League opponents might hope it's at least that long before he returns.
The Cubs standout, recovering from left shoulder inflammation, began his rehab assignment Monday with the Smokies and made an immediate impact with a two-run homer and an RBI single in a 6-2 win over the Biscuits at Smokies Stadium.
Video: Bryant knocks in a run for Smokies
The 26-year-old All-Star, on the disabled list since June 26, swatted 22 homers and posted an OPS of 1.160 over 68 games with the Smokies before a promotion to Triple-A in 2014. He reached the Majors the next year and has not looked back, becoming the National League Rookie of the Year that season and the league's MVP the next.
Before Monday's game, he told reporters he was excited to begin playing again.
Gameday box score
"It's just been really, really boring for me to sit back and not be out there," he said. "It's refueled some of the excitement for getting out there on the field. I can't wait to get back out there."
In his first game since June 22, Bryant played third base for seven innings before being replaced by Jesse Hodges. He had four chances in the field and committed a throwing error in the fifth inning. But he showed little rust at the plate, reaching on an error by third baseman Michael Brosseau in the first, hitting an RBI single in the second and homering in the seventh off right-hander Benton Moss.
Video: Bryant goes yard for Smokies
According to the Chicago Tribune, Bryant's Minor League stint could be brief as Cubs manager Joe Maddon said the team planned to evaluate Bryant's progress following Tuesday's game.
Smokies leadoff man Charcer Burks doubled, singled and scored twice, and Vimael Machin homered.
Matt Swarmer (1-1) earned the win. The right-hander allowed two hits over six shutout innings, striking out five without issuing a walk.