Earlier today, we updated the stories for a number of injured players – Jason Heyward, Addison Russell, Ben Zobrist, Kyle Hendricks – the Cubs have gone without this season. And although there wasn’t a ton of good news to report, each does seem to be making some progress towards a return.
But there’s another key player the Cubs have gone (and will continue to go) without for sometime, and that’s outfielder Kyle Schwarber.
After a painfully slow start to the season, Kyle Schwarber began to show some small signs of life in the month of June. Unfortunately, what he did begin to show was far too little too late, and he was demoted to Triple-A Iowa on June 22.
Following that demotion, we heard some words of explanation and encouragement from Cubs President Theo Epstein, but it’s time to hear from the man himself, now that he’s debuted at Iowa.
Indeed, in articles from The Des Moines Register, ESPN, and the Chicago Sun Times, as well as a video from the Sun Times, Kyle Schwarber opened up about his demotion. You can and should check out his comments in full from each of those sources, but we’ll hit the highlights.
- If we know anything about Kyle Schwarber, we know that his extraordinarily tough work ethic is matched only by his confidence. To that we shouldn’t be surprised to learn that he’s responding well to his demotion. “I’m not going to back down at all — trust me,” Schwarber said. “My goal is to get back up there as soon as I can — and I’m going to work my butt off.”
- I should point out that Schwarber got his new Triple-A career off to a slow start last night, with three straight strikeouts to begin the game. But in his fourth at-bat, he crushed a long single off the outfield wall. I doubt, very sincerely, that he’ll struggle much with Triple-A pitching for long.
- As to why he feels he was demoted, Schwarber is very honest with himself: “The numbers spoke for themselves.” He went to Iowa with a .171/.295/.378 slash line for the season. He later added that obviously no one wants to come back down to the Minor Leagues (especially after having the amount of success Schwarber has), but the opportunity will allow him to relax and get back to being himself.
- This feels like a good spot to remind you of what Epstein said about Schwarber at the plate: “These days he looks more like slugger than hitter, and Kyle’s a hitter first. He’s a hitter first who has power, but it’s gotten away from him, and we have zero doubt that this will be good for him.” You may have forgotten, but before the 2016 knee injury and 2017 struggles, many suggested that Schwarber would actually be the best overall hitter (especially in terms of average) on the Cubs. He never lost his power (his .207 ISO ranks third best on the Cubs this season), but obviously his batting average slipped to new depths. Hopefully, he’ll get right at Iowa.
- But what does that really entail? After all, it’s not like he’s working on a complete swing overhaul like Jason Heyward did over the winter, right? Right. “I’m not here to change everything,” Schwarber said. “I want to stay myself. I want to get back to myself. I’m going to be confident while I’m doing it.” According to Jed Hoyer, Schwarber needs to get his swagger back, because his struggles at the Major League have sapped him of his usual swing. The idea, then, would be to let him go pound on Triple-A pitching in a low pressure environment and have him bring that “swagger” back up to the Major League level.
There’s no indication of how long he’ll be down there, but I’ll tell you what: betting against Kyle Schwarber sure seems like an awfully silly move.
More from Schwarber, himself, here: