When the Chicago Cubs drafted catcher Kyle Schwarber in 2014, there was obviously a lot of promise there. I don’t know if anybody realized quite how quickly he would impact the organization, but the fact remains that he’s on the big league roster to stay. While I’m sure he will be behind the plate on occasion in 2016, there are plenty of options at the catcher position for the foreseeable future, which is probably the reason why Schwarber saw plenty of time in the outfield in 2015. The Cubs want his bat in the lineup and Theo Epstein emphatically stated during last week’s Cubs Convention that he would not trade the 22-year-old under any circumstances, which likely means that Schwarber will be spending a lot of the 2016 season in the outfield. However, I think that all Cubs fans would agree that he needs a lot of work out there, but Schwarber himself knows that and is taking the necessary steps to become a better outfielder.
Playing a new position is tough for any player, but Schwarber’s lack of experience in the outfield was put on national display for the world to see during the NLCS against the New York Mets, especially with the ill-timed diving miss in the clincher. Yet, Schwarber continues to work at the position that may become his full-time job as his career progresses. In his own words, he’s looking for “a more explosive first step” and is taking yoga in hopes of improving his flexibility. He knows that his highlight-reel-type home runs have made him famous, but wants to be a better all-around player moving forward.
“You can’t really boast on your past, ” Schwarber said. “That’s the way you get a big head, and that’s not me. I’m this down-to-earth guy. I want to work hard, I want to bust my butt and I want to help this team win.
“The training is all a part of it, ” Schwarber said. “I love it.”
And I’m sure Cubs fans are loving that Kyle Schwarber is working hard to better himself defensively. He’s a big piece of what Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer envisioned for 2016 and with all of the players that the Cubs have on that stacked roster, he really doesn’t have a choice but to get better. That’s the beauty of this Cubs team. If somebody goes down or isn’t playing well, there’s somebody else that will just step in and get the job done. I’m sure Kyle Schwarber knows that as well and will continue to work hard to ensure himself a spot in the everyday lineup. He’s also got a bold prediction for how 2016 is going to go.
“I feel like we’re going to win the division, ” Schwarber said. “We showed what we can do when we’re all in it for the common goal.”
Of course, there’s the conversation that will have to be had about Kyle Schwarber if the designated hitter comes to the National League, which looks to be more and more likely as the current collective bargaining agreement enters its final year, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.