Although he hit a gargantuan home run last night – as he does – Kyle Schwarber didn’t look quite right circling the bases. He was a little atypically upright and stiff, and jogging very slowly.
Turns out it was because of some back soreness he’s been battling for a little while, which picked up a bit more after an earlier slide in the game:
Maddon said Schwarber's back started acting up after his slide into third. He let Maddon know before his final at-bat and then homered. Maddon said it was his best swing of the season. He's day to day.
— Sahadev Sharma (@sahadevsharma) September 6, 2018
It sounds like everyone handled that very well, actually. Schwarber’s back wasn’t so injured that he couldn’t keep playing, but given the situation and the risk on defense – if he wound up going after a ball, you could easily turn some back tightness/soreness into a serious injury – he let Joe Maddon know that it might be a good idea to have someone ready. And, since the back doesn’t bother him on swings, he was permitted to take one more at bat … when he homered.
It’s funny: Joe Maddon even suggested that the swing may have been enhanced by Schwarber’s tight back. “He may have taken his best swing,” Maddon told Cubs.com. “The body was out of it probably because he couldn’t feel like he could use [his back]. I think that was his best swing of the season. I’m not exaggerating, it was that good.”
Backs are tricky, as anyone over the age of 30 knows. You can be stiff and sore and barely able to move one day, and then it loosens up on you, boom, you’re fine the next day. Or, of course, the reverse can happen. I’ve found that the biggest thing is that when I start feeling the creeping onset of tightness/discomfort, I’ve gotta avoid any kind of high impact stuff or bending over, because that’s when it goes from a one-day thing to a several-day thing. Everybody’s back is different, and Schwarber is a much younger professional athlete, but it sounds like the thinking was the same here.
That is all to say, there isn’t necessarily a reason to freak out right now. Back issues are prevalent, but they can be managed. Schwarber might be fine as soon as today. Or he’ll wake up in misery and be out for weeks. We’ll see.