DETROIT – Maybe Joe Maddon felt like practicing for that “Curb Your Enthusiasm” appearance Jeff Garlin promised if Larry David ever gets the gang back together again on HBO.
The Cubs manager distanced himself from the idea of promoting elite prospect Kyle Schwarber to be a designated hitter – after repeatedly declining to rule it out in the days leading up to this interleague series against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park.
“Everybody’s been talking about it,” Maddon said before Tuesday’s 6-0 loss. “I’m just playing along.”
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Schwarber went out that night and blasted his 13th home run for Double-A Tennessee. Improv skills aside, it sure sounded as if Maddon liked the idea – or at least the possibility – of adding a powerful left-handed bat for this seven-games-in-13-days stretch at American League stadiums.
“Of course,” Maddon said.
It got to the point where Maddon talked through options on Sunday night with president of baseball operations Theo Epstein. Schwarber hasn’t even gone through his first full professional season yet, but he’s been dominating at the Double-A level, hitting .322 with 39 RBI, 39 walks and a 1.025 OPS through 54 games.
Though there are long-term questions about whether or not Schwarber’s future will be at catcher, the Cubs certainly feel validated after taking him last year with the No. 4 overall pick out of Indiana University.
“I think the kid’s going to be a really good Major League Baseball player,” Maddon said. “But I also like the guys that are here. We discussed the different possibilities that would require a lot of manipulation in order to have that done right now. So I’m good with the lineup as it sits right now.”
Schwarber would have to be added to the 40-man roster, the Cubs want him focusing on his defensive work behind the plate and there are other day-to-day needs and clubhouse dynamics to keep in mind.
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So while David Ross caught Jon Lester, Maddon went with Miguel Montero at DH against Detroit right-hander Anibal Sanchez. Even though hitting consultant Manny Ramirez told people in the clubhouse he wanted to DH.
“Of course he did,” Maddon said. “Not surprised, but I chose Montero instead, because he’s probably the best candidate to hit right now.
“I thought Miggy – just based on who he is – to hit behind (Kris) Bryant in the batting order probably causes more pause among them than anybody else.”