Not unlike last year, Kyle Schwarber’s future behind the plate is one of the Cubs’ most-discussed stories of the spring.
We’ve already seen him working out with the catchers during camp, and have learned that he’ll likely be available at least in a pinch behind the plate throughout the 2017 season, but is that it? In other words, will he just be available, or will he catch regularly?
Lately, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that Schwarber’s duties behind the plate next season will be very limited.
And apparently, although Schwarber has been a major driver of his own catching future, he’s well aware of (and content with) that reality.
In stories at CBS Chicago (Bruce Levine) and Cubs.com (Carrie Muskat), Schwarber laid out his understanding that he will be the “third catcher,” behind starter Willson Contreras and primary back-up Miguel Montero in 2017: “It’s going to be limited. My role right now is most likely third catcher. I’ve got [Willson Contreras] and [Miguel Montero]. I’ve got to be ready at any time to come in late in the game from left field to maybe come catch and give those guys a blow. It’s not like I’m going to be the everyday starter.”
Schwarber, who will primarily play left field, later indicated that while he’d love to do more than what he’s done thus far (and surely more than what’s planned for him this year), he’s got to take things slowly. Coming back strong from last season’s injury is the number one goal, and everything else (including catching) will have to take a back seat.
That doesn’t mean catching more regularly in 2018 and beyond is out of the question – “When he goes to bed at night, he is a catcher,” general manager Jed Hoyer said via CBS. But again, staying healthy and on the field in 2017 is the goal.
So you can continue to expect to see Schwarber working out with the catchers this Spring and tentatively expect to see some time behind the plate during the regular season, but keep in mind that the only thing everyone really wants is to see him anywhere on the field (well, perhaps excluding the opposing pitchers).