PHOENIX, Ariz. - Joe Maddon sees one major problem with Kyle Schwarber right now: He wants to work too much.
Maddon and the Cubs coaching staff are actively trying to make sure Schwarber isn't overloading himself in spring training as the second-year slugger works tirelessly to improve at two positions - catcher and outfield.
Ever since the Cubs took Schwarber with the fourth overall pick in the 2014 MLB Draft, naysayers have claimed the Indiana University product cannot stick at catcher and is destined for a role as a designated hitter.
But Schwarber insists he can catch and the Cubs have consistently backed him, including putting him behind the plate for 21 games in his rookie season.
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This spring, Schwarber has been working out at both positions and was in the lineup in left field (and leading off) for the Cubs' 2-1 loss in the Cactus League opener against the Milwaukee Brewers at Maryvale Park Thursday afternoon. In the game, Schwarber went 1-for-3 with a single up the middle in the third inning.
"He wants to catch and I think he can be a very good catcher," Maddon said. "Our biggest job is to juggle the work between catching, playing the outfield and then hitting and hitting in a significant part of our lineup.
"More than anything, you just gotta keep track of him - how's he doing mentally/physically, is he getting tired?"
Maddon believes having Schwarber as a third catching option behind veterans Miguel Montero and David Ross is an advantage for the Cubs and the organization doesn't want to stiffle the 22-year-old.
"It's fortunate to have him in that situation. It's even more fortunate he's so eager to do it," Maddon said. "To work this entire catching/outfield/hitting triangle, I think that's the best way to get the most out of him."
Maddon has talked several times this spring about how playing multiple positions could help the offensive game of a player like Schwarber or Javy Baez because they are so focused on getting their work in defensively, they don't have a chance to overthink their swing.
Schwarber figures to spend most of his time in left field this season, but now that the Cubs have Jason Heyward, Dexter Fowler and Jorge Soler, there are plenty of guys who need at-bats out in the outfield.
The Cubs haven't said how often Schwarber will catch in the regular season, but they have all but ruled out the idea of him catching a certain pitcher like Kyle Hendricks every time through the rotation. With Ross already catching every Jon Lester start, Maddon doesn't want to lock Schwarber in to another pitcher, which could hurt Montero's playing time.
In the offseason, Schwarber worked on his flexibility, agility and explosiveness to help cover more ground in the outfield.
"I'm learning every day," Schwarber said. "That's how it has to be. I'm never too good for the game.
"I'm trying to get better at two positions. ... Whatever you can do to make yourself more versatile, it's only going to be a positive."
Schwarber pointed to now-teammate Ben Zobrist as a great example of versatility. Zobrist has played more than 100 games at four different positions in his career (second base, right field, shortstop and left field).
Early in camp, Zobrist had some advice for Schwarber:
"In the game, you just focus on the ball," Zobrist said. "You just do your work out there, focus on the ball and play the game. It's different out in left field. It's different behind the plate. It's a way different type of game.
"But you switch your mindset. When you switch in the game to a different position, then you go, 'Well I know how to do this, too.' Then you just plug that program into the computer and let it play out."
Schwarber said he's going to take advantage of any opportunity to play, regardless of position.
He doesn't want to just stick with one position and believes it is a psychological boost to keep developing at both catcher and outfield.
"I've been doing it my whole life," Schwarber said. "For me to keep getting better at it, it can only be a benefit for me because of the versatility part of the game - a double switch or somebody gets hurt, things like that.
"You saw last year when [Montero] got hurt, I got called up and had to catch. Then I went out in left and caught a bit here and there.
"Whatever I can do to keep getting better at both positions, I want to do."