Schwarber's Catching Pose, Contreras and Lester, Harper's Return, and Other Bullets

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Schwarber’s Catching Pose, Contreras and Lester, Harper’s Return, and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs News, MLB News and Rumors

Today is the first full-squad workout day for the Chicago Cubs!

I’m headed to the ballpark this morning to take in whatever action the weather allows, so hopefully I’ll be able to get some good pictures, videos, and/or anecdotes.

  • Kyle Schwarber caught John Lackey yesterday, his first time getting back behind the plate since he was cleared by doctors to do so. Schwarber is barely 10 months removed from a devastating knee injury, which makes it all the more remarkable that he was able to get back there yesterday. The Cubs already have a plan to limit the load on Schwarber’s surgically-repaired knee, having him work in a modified squat with his left leg extended.
  • Schwarber, of course, wanted to do much more than just a modified session with Lackey, but the Cubs stuck with the plan ( He’ll catch only one or two times per week this Spring. As for the regular season, the plan remains to get Schwarber into position to be the third/emergency catcher this year, not a guy who is regularly rotated into the mix as a starter (*unless* he was physically perfect, and a serious need emerged behind the plate for him to get more starts back there). Joe Maddon noted that the Cubs don’t want to jeopardize losing his bat this year, and also losing the possibility that Schwarber could catch more regularly in 2018 and beyond ( Miguel Montero, you’ll note, is a free agent after this year.
  • Speaking of catchers who will see a whole lot of regular season time back there, Willson Contreras will continue working with Jon Lester this spring to get the duo familiar with each other in advance of the regular season. Lester doesn’t expect any issues, but he noted that even with David Ross, it took a few starts to really get used to how each other liked to work (Daily Herald).
  • A great read here at on Addison Russell’s offseason, and his delayed reaction to winning it all. He also got a chance to customize his own cleats and glove for the season, which is a pretty cool touch (and the kind of subtle, small thing baseball can continue to do to promote the sport in ways you might not realize).
  • This will probably generate something funny:

  • On a more serious Rizzo note, he was inspired by a sign on former President Obama’s desk on the team’s visit to the White House: “Hard things are hard.” Simple message, but there’s a whole lot of utility there.
  • Cubs reliever Pedro Strop, who was involved in his own accident in 2014, wants to talk to young players in the Dominican Republic next offseason about making safe decisions (

  • There were long-whispered (and aggressively denied) rumors of a nagging shoulder injury for Harper last year, so I guess we’ll see what happens this season. Harper, just 24, is a sometimes brash, always compelling, superstar type that I really want to see at his best. Because his best is so much fun to watch.
  • Also fun to watch is Harper’s young teammate Trea Turner, who may well be the fastest man in baseball. His later call-up and the ridiculous season from Corey Seager kind of obscured it, but don’t sleep on the fact that Turner hit .342/.370/.567, stole 33 bases, and was worth 3.3 WAR in *under* half a season. We’ll see if that performance level sticks (he saw a huge spike in his ISO in the big leagues (unusual), and also a drop in his strikeout rate (very unusual)), but if this is him? Paired regularly with Harper? Yo.


Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.