Cubs searching for spots to get Kyle Schwarber in at catcher


Cubs searching for spots to get Kyle Schwarber in at catcher

The Cubs still see Kyle Schwarber as a catcher long-term.

But for 2015 with both Miguel Montero and David Ross healthy and playing well, it will be hard to find time to get the hot-hitting rookie behind the plate.

[MORE CUBS: Cubs having fun watching 'Fast Hulk' Schwarber do his thing]

For the fifth straight game, Schwarber was penned into the lineup as the Cubs' left fielder Wednesday night. Ross caught one of those games, and Montero caught his fourth straight Wednesday since coming off the disabled list.

"There might be spots for him to (catch) the rest of the way and certainly long-term, we still see him as a catcher," Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said Wednesday. "But I think right now, we're so hot and clicking so well with this alignment that there's not really a reason to go away from it.

"But I think there are spots. We've talked about finding the right spots for him to get back there at some point. I think he'll do a lot of both."

Schwarber's move to left field was a way for the Cubs to keep his bat in the lineup every day, as Joe Maddon got creative and moved Chris Coghlan to second base (and Starlin Castro to the bench).

[MORE CUBS: Cubs evolving under Joe Maddon's 'mad scientist' method]

Schwarber entered play Wednesday with a .997 OPS and has helped jumpstart this Cubs offense since the All-Star Break.

There were questions about whether or not Schwarber could catch well enough to play the position in the big leagues, but the rookie has put in all the hard work and received rave reviews from his teammates, coaches and the Cubs front office for his progression behind the plate.

Even though he's been playing left field over the last week, Schwarber still has been working with Cubs catching coach Mike Borzello and catching bullpens before games.

Maddon wants to make sure Schwarber still has a chance to put that hard work to use in game situations, though, and the Cubs skipper said that chance could come against the White Sox over the weekend when two left-handed starters will likely force Montero to the bench.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Cubs fans!]

"I gotta get him back there at some point," Maddon said. "I don't want him to lose all that good work he's done. It's just about the schedule and how it's gonna play, like (Thursday is) gonna be Jon (Lester pitching) and that will be David (Ross catching).

"I need to figure it out. (Schwarber has) made so much progress with it. He really has. But Miggy's fine. He's here for a reason, and he's done a great job, too.

"So, it's a nice problem to have, but I do need to get him for a game or two back there."

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 12th + 13th homers in 1998


Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 12th + 13th homers in 1998

It's the 20th anniversary of the Summer of Sammy, when Sosa and Mark McGwire went toe-to-toe in one of the most exciting seasons in American sports history chasing after Roger Maris' home run record. All year, we're going to go homer-by-homer on Sosa's 66 longballs, with highlights and info about each. Enjoy.

An off-day did nothing to slow down the 1998 National League MVP as Sosa collected his second straight 2-homer game May 27 of that season.

He went deep in the eighth and ninth innings of a Cubs' 10-5 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies at Wrigley Field, driving in 3 runs. 

The first homer - off Darrin Winston - was an absolute blast, traveling an estimated 460 feet. The second shot was tame in comparison with only 400 feet as a recorded distance.

In a matter of two games, Sosa raised his season OPS from .930 to .988 and his slugging percentage from .521 to .577 thanks to a pair of 2-homer contests.

Fun fact: Doug Glanville - former Cubs outfielder and current NBC Sports Chicago analyst - was the Phillies leadoff hitter that day in 1998, collecting three hits and scoring a pair of runs.

Yu Darvish back on the DL for Cubs with triceps tendinitis


Yu Darvish back on the DL for Cubs with triceps tendinitis

Yu Darvish now has more trips to the disabled list in a Cubs uniform than wins.

The Cubs place their 31-year-old right-handed pitcher on the DL Saturday evening with right triceps tendinitis. The move is retroactive to May 23, so he may only have to miss one turn through the rotation.

In a corresponding move, Randy Rosario was recalled from Triple-A Iowa to provide Joe Maddon with another arm in the bullpen. Tyler Chatwood will start Sunday in Darvish's place.

Thanks to two off-days on the schedule last week, the Cubs should be fine with their rotation for a little while. Jon Lester could go on regular rest Monday, but the Cubs would need to make a decision for Tuesday given Kyle Hendricks just threw Friday afternoon.

That decision could mean Mike Montgomery moving from the bullpen to the rotation for a spot start, or it could be the promotion of top prospect Adbert Alzolay from Triple-A Iowa.

Either way, this is more bad news for Darvish, who has had a rough go of it since he signed a six-year, $126 million deal with the Cubs in February.

Between issues with the weather, the concern of arm cramps in his debut in Miami, leg cramps in Atlanta, a trip to the disabled list for the flu, trouble making it out of the fifth inning and now triceps tendinitis, it's been a forgettable two months for Darvish.

He is 1-3 with a 4.95 ERA, 1.43 WHIP and 49 strikeouts in 40 innings with the Cubs.

Over the course of 139 career starts, Darvish is 57-45 with a 3.49 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and has averaged 11 strikeouts per nine innings.