Cubs

Cubs go outside the box with Kyle Schwarber at leadoff

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Cubs go outside the box with Kyle Schwarber at leadoff

SAN FRANCISCO — You’re not a prototypical ...

“What are you saying I’m fat?” Kyle Schwarber said, joking around with the reporters at his locker before Wednesday’s big game against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon likes to question assumptions and go against convention. So why change now when FanGraphs gives his team a 97.4-percent chance of making the playoffs?

The Cubs put Schwarber in the leadoff position, hoping for a spark from the left-handed power hitter who’s barreled his way into the National League’s Rookie of the Year race. 

“I got a green light,” Schwarber said.

[MORE CUBS: Cubs counting on Kyle Hendricks in the stretch run]

The X-rays came back negative on Dexter Fowler’s bruised hand and shin, but Maddon still wanted to give his leadoff guy the night off against the defending World Series champs. 

Fowler has been an offensive catalyst during this second-half surge, getting on base almost 44 percent of the time since the All-Star break, drawing 31 walks in his last 35 games.     

“There’s no different approach to the game,” Schwarber said. “You’re the first hitter, and then once the game starts, you’re not the first hitter anymore. Just approach it like any other at-bat and go from there.”

At times, Schwarber said, he hit leadoff for Indiana University, where he developed into last year’s No. 4 overall pick. Maddon also pointed out that he used catcher/designated hitter John Jaso as an occasional leadoff guy with the Tampa Bay Rays. 

“I’m not opposed to trying things like that,” Maddon said. “I like the fact that he comes around more often. The fact that Addison (Russell is) swinging the bat a lot better at the bottom (of the order) helps, also. But I don’t see it as being a stretch.”

Schwarber clearly feels at home in a clubhouse that blends steady rookies, grizzled veterans and a manager who thinks outside the box. The Cubs will keep finding spots for Schwarber, who has put up 12 homers, 35 RBIs and a .944 OPS through his first 42 games in The Show. 

“Same plan, same approach,” Schwarber said with his game face on before delivering another one-liner. “And I don’t appreciate you calling me fat.”

Podcast: In light of recent hitting coach turmoil, who’s to blame for Cubs offensive struggles?

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USA TODAY

Podcast: In light of recent hitting coach turmoil, who’s to blame for Cubs offensive struggles?

On the latest Cubs Talk Podcast, David Kaplan, Kelly Crull, Luke Stuckmeyer and Tony Andracki discuss the comments Chili Davis made after being fired as Cubs hitting coach, ask if the Cubs struggles on offense were Davis' fault or the players and what Anthony Iapoce will be walking into as he tries to gets the team back on track a the plate.

 

Listen to the entire podcast here, or in the embedded player below:

 

Texas Rangers hire Cubs' Shiraz Rehman to be assistant GM

Texas Rangers hire Cubs' Shiraz Rehman to be assistant GM

The changing of the guard continues for the Cubs this offseason. 

After the team hired a new hitting coach yesterday, it was reported today that they're losing a front office member: 

Rehman, who has been with the Cubs in the same position for the last seven years, will reportedly head up the Rangers' analytics department. According to the Chicago Tribune, Rehman's role was " evaluating existing systems, and recognizing and applying solutions in an effort to create competitive advantages for the organization." 

All reports indicate that he'll be doing similar analytic-based work with the Rangers.