The Chicago Cubs are preparing to take on the Cleveland Indians in the 2016 World Series. Which means Joe Maddon may end up making several roster moves in order to help the team. They currently carry three catchers.
At the beginning of the year, as soon as Spring Training wrapped, Chicago Cubs’ skipper Joe Maddon made a bold decision. He opted to keep three catchers on the big league roster. Those names included Miguel Montero, David Ross, and Kyle Schwarber.
Schwarber emerged as a strong candidate to take over the plate once David Ross and Miguel Montero were gone. Despite being capable of playing in the outfield as well, having him as a catcher came in handy.
On June 16, 2015, Kyle Schwarber made his big league debut after Miguel Montero was ejected in a game against the Cleveland Indians. A team that represents Kyle’s home state of Ohio. Yes, the team they will be facing in the World Series.
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Since then, Schwarber took the league by storm. At the time, it was only for a brief stint that would last just after Father’s Day of last season. However, his performance earned him a spot on the 25-man roster.
And what happened after that would make him a hero for the Chicago Cubs. His breakout performance came just a day after he debuted.
He finished 4-for-5 at the plate with his first career hit being a triple. In addition, he drove in two RBI with family and friends in attendance, cheering him on from the stands. Proud moment for his loved ones.
The following day would be much better for Kyle. Chicago’s latest addition to their power hitting arsenal swatted a two-run homer out to left-center field, scoring Chris Coghlan in the process.
At the time, it tied things up at three but the Cubs would go on to losing by the final score of 4-3 in the series finale. Kyle then proceeded to hit two homers in July, nine in August and another four in September before the Cubs headed to the postseason.
That is when the real magic started for this young man. Over the course of his first 27 at-bats in the postseason, Kyle launched five home runs, eight RBI while slashing .333/.419/.1.308.
Monster numbers from a monster of a human being. Once the Cubs were eliminated from the postseason thanks to the New York Mets, everyone tabbed Chicago as the favorites to win in 2016.
A Promising Journey, Halted
Why? Mainly because of guys such as Kyle Schwarber. One of the few players who received the loudest ovations at the Cubs Convention over the offseason. However, his season was cut short only four games in while visiting the Arizona Diamonds.
It is a play that continues on a loop in the back of your mind when you think about Schwarber. A routine fly ball that resulted in Kyle running into Dexter Fowler. Cubs fans around the world held their breath as Schwarber remained on the ground, in pain.
At first, it looked like it was just a minor ankle injury. Kyle was only going to be out for a few weeks the latest but it turned out to be much worse. Multiple tears in his knee that required season-ending surgery which put him on track to return just in time for Spring Training.
When it was time for the Chicago Cubs to begin their first homestand of the regular season, Schwarber was introduced to the crowd. In fact, he was the last player to be called out from the dugout and received another huge standing ovation.
He even had a special video package that highlighted some key moments of his 2015 run. All he could do was smile. With a brace over his knee and a crutch under his armpit, Kyle made his way up the steps and stood next to his manager alongside his teammates.
They went on to winning 103 games with him cheering from the bench. Or sometimes near the railing where he would spit sunflower seeds.
Now there is talk that he could return to the Chicago Cubs just in time for the World Series. Obviously, he would serve as the team’s designated hitter during their time in Cleveland. But would it be a good idea to rush him back?
Yes, he has improved and appears to be strong enough to return. Participating in workouts with the team during the postseason shows that he is in much better shape. What encouraged not only himself, his teammates but the fans is when it was revealed that he was in Mesa, Arizona.
Kyle took batting practice with the Solar Sox and was cleared to play six months after having his surgery. Would it be too much of a risk to bring him back that soon? Honestly, risking the chance of him potentially reinjuring his knee and having to spend not only the rest of the postseason but all of 2017 on the disabled list.
Possibly or at least the majority of next year. If the Cubs do decide to bring him back, maybe they will use him for the designated hitter spot only. Leaving him in pinch-hit situations when the series returns to Wrigley Field.
Depending on how he felt after the game in Arizona, the Cubs may end up doing just that. In that case, fans are going to be holding their breath whenever he takes a heavy swing and begins running around the bases.
Either way, I can’t wait until he returns to the lineup. I personally believe Chicago could have won more games had he stayed healthy and played throughout the season.