Despite concerns about injury, postseason hero Kyle Schwarber will have an opportunity to catch this spring, according to Chicago Cubs skipper Joe Maddon.
According to Carrie Muskat of MLB.com, the Chicago Cubs’ plans behind the dish in Cactus League play are very much to-be-determined.
Joe Maddon told reporters on Tuesday that Kyle Schwarber will get a chance to catch this spring, which, to this point was fairly unexpected. Last season, the slugger appeared in only a handful of games before undergoing knee surgery following an outfield collision with Dexter Fowler.
Despite Maddon’s comments, Schwarber admits that he is primarily a left fielder at this point.
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"“If I can do it, I want to do it,” he told reporters on the first day of camp. “But if it’s not medically safe, you know, don’t risk it … I’d like to (catch), but probably playing as much left field as I have, I’d probably say I’m a left fielder first.”"
Schwarber in left, Contreras behind the plate
He returned from the injury to start at designated hitter for the Cubs in the World Series, where he impressed. Schwarber batted .412 in the Fall Classic, driving in a pair of runs and smacking a double in five games.
In his first two postseasons, the 24-year-old carries a .364/.451/.727 slash line – notable by any measure. How he fits into the Cubs’ lineup in 2017 will be two-fold, according to Maddon, who said Schwarber will primarily play in the outfield while working into the catching depth chart at times.
The regular starting catcher will be rookie Willson Contreras, who broke onto the scene in a big way last season. In 76 2016 contests, he carried an .845 OPS while proving above-average work defensively, as well. Miguel Montero also figures to work into the mix at times, as well.
I broke down the Cubs’ catching situation here last week, offering the same conclusion: Contreras is your clear-cut starting backstop heading into the season.
Maddon also touched on Jon Lester in his comments, saying that David Ross, who retired this offseason, is working with Contreras on catching the Chicago left-hander.
The Chicago Cubs open Cactus League play on Saturday, February 24 against the San Francisco Giants at Scottsdale Stadium in Scottsdale, Arizona. First pitch is set for 2:05 p.m. CT.