ST. LOUIS — The Cubs are anticipating a full recovery for Kyle Schwarber after one of their most dynamic young players underwent left knee surgery on Tuesday in Dallas.
Dr. Daniel Cooper, the head team physician for the Cowboys and a medical expert in NFL circles, reconstructed Schwarber’s ACL and repaired his LCL after a devastating combination of injuries wiped out his season. The procedure did not reveal significant nerve damage.
The understanding is Schwarber’s case is somewhat different from the complicated situation facing Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith, who will likely see his NFL draft stock plummet after tearing the ACL and LCL in his left knee against Ohio State in the New Year’s Day Fiesta Bowl.
“It sounds like everything went as well as we could have hoped,” general manager Jed Hoyer said. “There was nothing unexpected that was found in there.”
Schwarber had been a second-team All-Ohio linebacker in high school and played baseball with a max-effort style that endeared him to teammates.
What was supposed to be another breakthrough year ended in the second inning of Game 3 on April 7 at Chase Field, where Schwarber crashed into Dexter Fowler while trying to catch a ball Arizona Diamondbacks leadoff guy Jean Segura drove into the left-center field gap.
“It’s incumbent on him to really do a great job on the rehab,” Hoyer said. “But there’s no indications that he’s not going to recover fully and be the player we expect.”
That optimism would appear to open the possibility that Schwarber could become a big-league catcher again.
“We haven’t really talked through all that stuff,” Hoyer said. “Let’s get away from the surgery a little bit. But we certainly haven’t had discussions about ending that possibility.”
Schwarber — the No. 4 overall pick in the 2014 draft out of Indiana — generated 16 home runs in 69 games last season and then set a franchise record with five homers in the postseason.
Even without Schwarber’s left-handed power, the Cubs were 10-3 heading into Tuesday night’s game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium. The Cubs still want Schwarber sitting in on pitchers’ meetings and helping design game plans and will base his rehab activities in Chicago.
It’s far too early to set a timetable — other than saying Schwarber faces a long, difficult road ahead — but a tentative best-case scenario could be having him medically cleared by spring training and in the 2017 Opening Day lineup.
“He’s sort of gotten over the initial shock,” Hoyer said. “He’s back to his normal self. I think you know his personality — he’ll dominate this rehab. He’ll work incredibly hard. That’s what we miss the most. Obviously, you miss his bat, but you miss that personality. He’s such a competitor and a winner.”