As we now believe to be coming, Kyle Schwarber will be something of a personal catcher for Jason Hammel this season.
By all accounts, and most importantly Joe Maddon’s, the two work quite well together, so it’s expected to be a mutually beneficial relationship. This is also especially important news, because it answers a ton of pressing questions:
- Will Kyle Schwarber catch at all in 2016?
- How often will Schwarber catch in 2016?
- If Schwarber isn’t yet capable of handling premium velocity or movement, whom on the staff will he work with?
- How will the Cubs find playing time for Jorge Soler in the outfield?
I can go on and on – and I don’t just mean that figuratively.
Personally, I’m excited for this arrangement, because it means we’ll get to see much more of Schwarber behind the plate than we probably could have expected otherwise. Luckily, I don’t have to wait until the regular season to see that, because the battery* took the field yesterday and by one, two and three accounts it was a resounding success.
In the Cubs 9-6 win over the Cincinnati Reds Tuesday, Hammel threw five innings, giving up just one earned run on three hits, one walk and three strikeouts. He has been having a very good Spring (1.20 ERA). Behind the plate, Schwarber also had an excellent game, after picking off both Jay Bruce and Ray Chang in the first and third inning, respectively.Both pick-offs were unplanned, but you won’t hear Hammel complaining. “I felt at first I didn’t have to be out there,” Hammel said via Carrie Muskat at Cubs.com, “All I had to do is get it to the plate, and let him do whatever he wanted. A couple of pickoffs there makes my job real easy.” Later, Hammel added that he liked Schwarber’s aggressiveness, because it keeps his pitch count down and the pace of the game up.
And, the respect works both ways. “I’m comfortable with Hammel,” Kyle Schwarber told reporters, “I think he’s comfortable with me. Every time, I want him to get down in the zone and just pound the strike zone. He’s been doing a good job with it. He’s making it easy on me back there, too.”
So, then, so far so good for the unexpected battery. You can read more about their day together – including quotes from each player – here, here and here. May their relationship grow and their baseball product benefit from this new arrangement in 2016.
*The Battery – An excellent post-zombie apocalypse movie that follows a former battery, as they make their way through the wilderness and an abandoned world.