Two weeks ago, Joe Maddon put the Kyle Schwarber batting leadoff experiment on hold.
The Cubs manager has been trying to get the 24-year-old slugger to hit out of his slump. On Saturday, Maddon moved Schwarber to a new spot in the order: last.
The change comes a day after Maddon hit Schwarber seventh in Friday’s series opener against the St. Louis Cardinals at Wrigley Field, which he didn’t like at all.
“If you could replay every pitch that was thrown to him yesterday, I hated it,” said Maddon. “(I) saw it from the side. They were taking advantage of the hole hitter and the pitcher behind him. He did not benefit from a wide strike zone. I hated it.”
After Friday’s game, Maddon said he called Schwarber — who went 0-for-2 with two strikeouts — to explain his decision to bat him ninth.
“He’s in essence another leadoff hitter,” said Maddon. “The other part is he gets one less at-bat possibly while he’s working through this whole thing. I did it before with Addison (Russell) to try to get Addison better pitches, but I did not like that look at all.
“I thought I put him in a really bad situation by hitting him seventh yesterday, how good he is, his reputation, and with the other team’s able to do vs. him based on just his spot in the batting order, I hated it.”
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Schwarber is batting .165/.286/.341 in 2017 with eight home runs and 19 RBI this season.
When Maddon had the phone conversation with Schwarber, he said the left fielder handled it “beautifully.”
“He understood,” said Maddon. “It’s just one time through and for me it is in essence it’s like he’s hitting leadoff again in front of (Ian) Happ and then (Kris Bryant), etc. So we’re still getting that kind of flavor out of him.
“But I do believe he should benefit and see a better pitch and if he doesn’t then just take your walk and set it up for 1-2-3, which he will do.”