Last week, the Chicago Cubs made a bold move by demoting one of their top players to Triple-A Iowa. That man made his return to the Iowa Cubs on Monday evening.
On Monday, the second-place Chicago Cubs found themselves in a battle with the Washington Nationals. In a game filled with several defensive web gems by shortstop Javier Baez, the Cubs escaped with a win.
Let’s face it. This offense looks somewhat improved without a struggling Kyle Schwarber in the lineup. A lineup that features first baseman Anthony Rizzo and catcher Willson Contreras batting lead off at different times.
You know, a familiar position that was once occupied by Schwarber himself. We all know how that played out – despite 12 homers and 28 RBI.
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Speaking of Contreras in the leadoff spot; the 25-year-old slugger launched a home run during the first at-bat of the evening. However, he ended the night 2-for-4 with a run scored – having hit his second homer in Chicago’s previous seven games.
As for Schwarber, things didn’t go as expected. Remember, following a stunning return to the Cubs just in time for the World Series, Schwarber batted only .171 prior to his demotion.
Never Back Down
He hit .246/.355/.487/.842 with 16 homers, 43 RBI and 57 hits over the course of his true rookie campaign. We all know what happened to him in early April 2016 when he collided with Dexter Fowler in Arizona.
Not much to show for in 2016 until it was time for the final series in which the Cubs would erase 108 years of pain and suffering. This time around, Schwarber is looking to find his way back on track.
When speaking to the media before Monday’s game, Kyle told the Chicago Sun-Times:
"“The numbers speak for themselves. Obviously, you don’t ever want to come back down here. But it’s an opportunity to relax, get back to being myself and try to get back up [with the Cubs].”"
And he will. Schwarber later said that he isn’t the type of guy who backs down from a challenge, which is the mentality that he needs to have. At the end of the day, Schwarber is a key piece of this organization despite his struggles.
In his return to Des Moines, he finished 1-for-4 with three strikeouts in his first three at-bats. Schwarber later turned on a pitch and thought he had went yard but instead found himself standing on first with a long single to right field.
Not quite the start he was looking for in Iowa, but hitting coach Andy Haines will be working hands-on with the 24-year-old powerhouse. It’s only a matter of time until Chicago’s version of The Incredible Hulk makes his return.