Kyle Schwarber wasn't in his usual leadoff spot for Saturday's scheduled Cubs-Brewers game, which was postponed due to rain.
Manager Joe Maddon released a new lineup with Ben Zobrist hitting first, followed by Schwarber — and the usual Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo.
It's no secret the Cubs slugger has struggled in the leadoff spot this season. Hitting .182/.305./.351 in 38 games, Schwarber has been looking to find consistency at the plate.
Maddon even came to his defense earlier this week when asked whether the slumping Schwarber would continue to hit first in a game against the Cincinnati Reds at Wrigley Field.
So Maddon's shakeup in the lineup doesn't exactly indicate his lack of confidence in Schwarber, but the Cubs manager does think it could help him get his bat going again.
"What I was looking at there was a couple things," Maddon said. "Zo’s been really good lately. We gave him that couple days off and he’s come out real nicely. And (Ian) Happ’s the new Zobrist. In other words he could protect Rizzo.
"The other component I thought we’ve talked a lot about Kyle hitting a lot of balls into the shift. If in fact Zo could get on a little more often, it might move that second baseman out of that spot. I don’t know, it might. So you look at Schwarber’s batting average, even Anthony’s, a lot is impacted by these shifts.
"Happ being here pretty much permits me to thinking that way and the fact that he’s done so well. Cause I was always concerned about Zo leaving that spot, but just imagine that today if I put Zo up there and Happ wasn’t there behind Rizzo, what that would look like. I wouldn’t feel as good about it. A lot of different parts. I was thinking about it last night coming into today and I thought it made sense."
In 36 games, Zobrist has three homers and 14 RBIs with a .246/.348/.385 slash line this year.
Maddon said that Schwarber's move out of the leadoff spot isn't necessarily permanent.
"It just depends," Maddon said. "The biggest thing is just to get him untracked a little bit confidence-wise. Started the shift several years ago and a lot of your own guys hate you now. That’s just the fact that they’re hitting into this positioning a lot. So we’ll see. We’ll see how it all plays out."
Maddon's lineup had another new/old look.
After missing two weeks with a finger injury, Jason Heyward's return to the lineup was put on hold on Saturday. The 27-year-old outfielder was set to bat sixth and play right field.
On Thursday, Heyward had a rehab assignment with the South Bend Cubs, where he went 1-for-3 with an RBI single. After the game, Heyward said he felt no pain and was ready to return to the big club.
Though it's not official, Tommy La Stella is expected to be optioned to Triple-A Iowa as a corresponding move.