In a year full of pleasant surprises, the Cubs slid in an unexpected one mere hours before the team’s National League pennant-clinching win on Saturday when the Mesa Solar Sox added Kyle Schwarber to their taxi squad.
The Cubs moved Schwarber off the 60-day disabled list, removed pitcher Giovanni Soto from the 40-man roster, and Schwarber would proceed to start in Saturday’s Arizona Fall League tilt. This allowed the Cubs to give Schwarber a look at live game action in the event he was far enough along in his rehab to possibly help the team as a designated hitter or pinch-hitter *if* the team made the World Series.
Well, that happened. So, where do things go from here?
Schwarber went 0-for-3 with a walk in his return to live action, batting second and playing as the designated hitter. Two of Schwarber’s three outs were ground outs to the right side, the third was a line drive snagged in the gap in right-center.
Jim Callis of MLB.com had a detailed write-up of Schwarber’s first game experience since April. You can read it here. Schwarber told Callis he was “a little antsy” in his return, particularly in his first two at-bats, in which he was chasing pitches. He later added: “Once it started getting back to being normal baseball again, it all started slowing down… Overall, that was a really plus day for me, feeling confident, so we’ll see where this goes.”
Over at ESPN.com, Christopher Crawford spoke with an American League scout in his report from Arizona. The scout who attended the game had a “positive – but cautious” review of Schwarber’s day at the dish. In short, Schwarber’s timing was off (which was to be expected), but still showed good bat speed and an ability to recognize pitches. The scout closed by saying: “It wouldn’t surprise me at all if he’s ready to contribute with the bat in a couple of days.”
Crawford reports Schwarber will play in a simulated game on Sunday and the Cubs will make a decision on whether or not to add him to the World Series roster after that. Rosters are due Tuesday morning.
Tommy Stokke of FanRag Sports was out in Arizona with a look at Schwarber’s swing:
— Tommy Stokke (@StokkeTommy) October 22, 2016
As for his health, Schwarber told the Chicago Tribune his knee felt fine, describing his day as “overall a really great day for me.”
Schwarber spent much of the season with the team even though he was on the disabled list for a vast majority of it, so it had to be a little hard to be away from the team when they won the pennant. But, in his own way, he was still able to be a part of the pennant-clinching celebration:
We weren't about to let Schwarber feel left out! https://t.co/1J8vdrndot
— Spike (@SpikeLundberg) October 23, 2016
Jon Heyman reports that it’s realistically possible that Schwarber joins the Cubs’ World Series roster if all goes well.” So, in a season that could have featured a “Win it for Schwarber” rally cry, it appears possible the Cubs could win it with him.