Joe Maddon: Kyle Schwarber Will Do Some Catching This Spring

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Joe Maddon: Kyle Schwarber Will Do Some Catching This Spring

Chicago Cubs

Although everyone already knows that Kyle Schwarber will primarily play left field this season, as was the plan last season, it remains an open question whether the former catcher will spend any time behind the plate. Schwarber’s 2016 season ended early with a severe knee injury, calling into question previous plans to rotate him into the catching mix periodically.

In an ideal world, the Cubs and manager Joe Maddon would have the ability to move Schwarber behind the plate from time to time, whether to maximize match-ups, or to promote certain in-game strategies. But the reality is that Schwarber’s bat is too valuable, and his overall potential too great, for the Cubs to take any unnecessary risks behind the plate.

So, we’ve been waiting until this Spring Training to learn what the plan would be for Schwarber, who, himself acknowledged that he didn’t know how things would go when the season rolled around. It would depend on how he feels, how the doctors evaluate his knee, and a number of other factors.

Well, we’ve got our first bit of news on that front today from manager Joe Maddon, speaking to the media in Arizona:

If he’s catching this spring, then that means …

You weren’t getting too excited just yet, were you? Of course the Cubs won’t commit to Schwarber catching in the regular season just yet, until they see how things go in Spring Training. That, after all, is the whole point of Spring Training.

Still, this is very good news. That the Cubs and Schwarber are to a point where all are comfortable that he can even try to work back there is a great sign for the health of his knee.

I can’t wait to see how he looks. Remember, we were already very interested to see Schwarber’s continued progress behind the plate last year before the knee injury. Just having him available to catch infrequently would provide even more flexibility for an already flexible roster.

That all said, the primary focus is still going to be left field, where we’ll hope to see improvement defensively. For his part, Schwarber has the right mindset:

We shall see.

Ah. Baseball is really back. This is great.

Author: Brett Taylor

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