You cannot beat the great Schwarbino. You can only hope to contain him. Chicago Cubs fans will be ecstatic to hear Kyle Schwarber has been officially cleared to resume catching duties.
The fact he is in good enough shape physically to catch speaks to his vigorous determination we saw on display when he defied all odds to come back and not only play, but dominate in the World Series.
The news of his return behind the plate comes much sooner than anticipated. Frankly, many thought he would never get back to this point.
"“We’re going to really go slow with it, like one or two days a week in Spring Training,” Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said on Tuesday. “His primary focus will be left field. The goal, if he is cleared, is to have him ready potentially at the end of Spring Training to fill that role of third catcher.”"
Schwarber tore the ACL and LCL in his left knee back in April 2016 in a frightening collision with Dexter Fowler. It’s never easy to predict how a player will come back after an injury like that, but Schwarber’s World Series performance was proof enough that he had recovered to a great degree. The mere fact that he played at all is a true testament to his dedication.
More from Chicago Cubs News
- Cubs: P.J. Higgins deserves to be in the lineup on a daily basis
- Cubs might start to limit Justin Steele’s workload soon
- Cubs: Adrian Sampson is forcing his way into the conversation
- Projecting the Chicago Cubs bullpen to open the 2023 season
- Cubs fans are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel
As noted above in comments made by Theo Epstein, the days of Schwarber being a starting catcher are likely over.
The fact that he can catch does not equate to him catching regularly. The Cubs’ plan for Schwarber is to roll him in as primarily a left fielder, with sparse work behind the plate.
Playing time at catcher
So, what kind of behind-the-plate time can we expect from Schwarber come April? Realistically, not a whole lot.
Miguel Montero is also likely to get more time at catcher than Schwarber. Contreras has been named as Jon Lester‘s new personal catcher and Montero is likely to keep catching for 2015 National League Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta.
At the end of the day, for both Schwarber and the organization, the primary focus is keeping the slugger’s bat in the lineup regularly.
"“He’s still coming off a really significant injury and we have to be careful with that,” manager Joe Maddon said. “We’d like to see him play an entire season. It’d be nice to get a full season of Kyle Schwarber. That’s the most important thing to get out of this.”"
The name of the game here is cautiousness. The idea is to ease Schwarber back into catching. He’s not quite ready to give up on his catching aspirations, but it’s hard to see him getting serious time behind the plate, even beyond 2017.
Expect to see him playing the majority of his time in the outfield. Despite the occasional negative outlook on his defensive ability, mostly due to his size, Schwarber has actually performed adequately in both corner outfield spots.
This is fantastic news, to be sure. But, like I said, don’t take it as Kyle Schwarber now becomes the team’s primary catcher. It’s a dream he hasn’t quite given up on yet, but it looks like Contreras’ gig heading into Spring Training.
Schwarber will look to play a big role with his bat for the Chicago Cubs this season. It’s hard to say what kind of slash line he’ll put up, but the potential to hit 40 or more home runs is definitely there.
Advancing to this point means Schwarber has made close to, if not a full recovery. Whether he’s catching or not, the Cubs’ lineup is undeniably more potent with their stocky slugger in it.