Cubs

Joe Maddon still thinking about Kyle Schwarber as Cubs' leadoff guy: 'Zero concern'

Joe Maddon still thinking about Kyle Schwarber as Cubs' leadoff guy: 'Zero concern'

In what could be a genius move or a definition-of-insanity moment, Cubs manager Joe Maddon is thinking about making Kyle Schwarber his leadoff hitter again.

Schwarber’s exact arrival from Triple-A Iowa is unclear – probably just before or right after the All-Star break – but the Cubs framed that demotion in late June as a temporary move to clear his head and rebuild his confidence for the season’s second half.

“I don’t know where he’s at and what it looks like right now,” Maddon said Wednesday at Wrigley Field. “I’ve thought about it. I honestly don’t know yet. I haven’t decided what I want to do with that yet.”

Maddon has a stubborn belief in his guys and his process, and this is an impossible question to answer anyway: Did batting Schwarber leadoff contribute to the offensive spiral?   

After a shocking recovery from major knee surgery and that dramatic World Series comeback last year, Schwarber hit .171 with a .673 OPS and 75 strikeouts in 64 games for an underachieving team across the board.

“It’s a zero concern,” Maddon said. “He would have struggled in the eight-hole. That had nothing to do with where he was hitting in the batting order. I find no connection between his struggle and where he was hitting in the batting order. It was just that he was struggling. Just missing his pitch, fouling it off. 

“That had nothing to do with placement in the batting order, because he was not trying to be any kind of a different hitter. He was not trying to accept more walks. He was not trying to do anything differently. It just was a matter that he was not hitting. 

“In my mind’s eye, it had nothing to do with it, so I would not be concerned with putting him back there, just depending on what he looks like when he gets back.”

Schwarber’s 10-game reset at Iowa so far looks like this: 11-for-33 with four homers, seven walks and 11 strikeouts. Maddon made Willson Contreras the leadoff guy against Tampa Bay Rays lefty Blake Snell, part of an unconventional rotation that has also included Anthony Rizzo, Jon Jay and Ben Zobrist. 

“We don’t have the 40-steal guy,” Maddon said. “We don’t have that kind of speed to put at the top. And we don’t have that kind of speed combined with on-base percentage, so you got to do the next best thing. I prefer your best hitters be at the top.”   

MLB extends temporary financial support for minor leaguers

MLB extends temporary financial support for minor leaguers

Since the COVID-19 outbreak, Major League Baseball has had to work through a number of logistical issues with no games taking place.

The owners and the MLB Players Association worked through a number of details on the major league level last week. Now, they have filtered some decisions down to the minors, as well.

MLB announced on Tuesday that minor league players will continue to be paid through the end of May. All players will continue to receive medical benefits.


Previously, MLB had provided interim support through April 8, which was the original starting date for the minor league season.

Baseball insiders Jeff Passan and Bob Nightengale had some insight as to what this means.


Minor leaguers don’t make big bucks, but this keeps a cash flow going to those players.


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Jon Lester's soccer career and other things to know about Cubs left-hander

Jon Lester's soccer career and other things to know about Cubs left-hander

Jon Lester is the best free agent addition in Cubs history, the guy who joined a last place club and helped push them to perennial contender status. He played a big part in the Cubs snapping their World Series drought, and even at 36 remains a durable, competitive starter.

Here’s a few things you may not know about the Cubs’ left-hander.

1. While playing in a soccer tournament in Italy at the age of 13, an Italian club approached Lester about playing professionally. He turned it down and the Red Sox drafted him five years later.

2. In August 2006, two months after making his MLB debut, Lester was diagnosed with a rare form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He underwent chemotherapy in the 2006-07 offseason and returned to the Red Sox in July 2007.

3. Lester’s charity, NVRQT, works to raise awareness and funds to fight pediatric cancer. Lester was the Cubs’ 2019 Robert Clemente Award nominee for his charitable efforts.

4. In 2011, Lester was featured on a wine label produced by Longball Cellars. Proceeds from “CabernAce” benefited the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.

5. Lester, an avid golfer, once shot an 81 at Augusta National, according to Golf Digest.

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