Cubs

Kyle Schwarber vows to come back to Cubs bigger, faster, stronger

Kyle Schwarber vows to come back to Cubs bigger, faster, stronger

PHOENIX – Kyle Schwarber could have wondered if he will ever be the same player again, whether or not he can regain the power and explosiveness that made him so valuable to the Cubs, but that’s not how he’s wired.

“I think I’m going to come back better,” Schwarber said Saturday in a matter-of-fact tone.

Schwarber stood on crutches inside Chase Field’s visiting clubhouse, almost 48 hours after the collision that Dexter Fowler said “felt like getting in a car crash.” The damage is already done, Schwarber facing surgery on his left knee to repair a torn ACL and LCL and awaiting a long, difficult rehab process.

“You got to face it head on,” Schwarber said. “That’s what I’m going to do. I’m not going to back down from it. I want to be there for the team whenever I can. I want to be pushing to get myself bigger, faster, stronger for next year.”

[MORE: How will the Cubs respond to the loss of Kyle Schwarber?]

Schwarber can’t second-guess how he responded in what amounted to a split-second decision in the middle of a perfect storm once Arizona Diamondbacks leadoff guy Jean Segura drove the ball into the left-center field gap.

“I could definitely feel bad if I did something wrong or if I wasn’t playing hard or something in that nature,” Schwarber said. “But me and Dex did everything that we possibly could to catch that ball. And literally everything had to be on time for this to happen.

“My spirits won’t get down. I know it’s going to be a long road. There’s going to be ups and downs. I just got to keep a good attitude with this and cheer these guys on.”

While Schwarber also severely sprained his ankle, Fowler escaped the accident scene with only a sore hip.

“That’s a big man over there, but you respect the hell out of him for the way he handled it,” Fowler said. “You only call the ball if you know you can catch it. I think we were both just going hard, going at it, being competitive and stuff like that happens.

“You never know what’s in God’s plan.”

The Cubs will clearly miss Schwarber’s left-handed power, the quick, compact swing that produced 16 home runs in 69 games last season and then five more during the playoff run that no one really saw coming.

[SHOP: Gear up, Cubs fans!]

Schwarber’s fast-track development — as the fourth overall pick in the 2014 draft out of Indiana University — accelerated the rebuild at Wrigley Field.

Schwarber handled the overnight success in a way that endeared him to teammates, with pitcher Jason Hammel saying he felt like “I lost my son” — not just a personal catcher — and Fowler calling him “my little brother.”

Schwarber has been cleared to fly back to Chicago with the team after Sunday’s game, but doesn’t yet know when he will have the surgery or where he will do his rehab.

The Cubs don’t know if Schwarber will be able to recapture the range of motion that allowed him to be a big-league catcher, or when they will be able to count on him again, but they absolutely believe in his work ethic and mental toughness.

After suffering a devastating season-ending combination of injuries in Game 3, a reasonable hope for the Cubs would be having Schwarber ready for the beginning of spring training in 2017.

“I’m going to push myself as hard as I can to be back healthy 100 percent,” Schwarber said. “Wherever that timetable leads me, I’ll be ready.”

Cubs honor sweet swingin’ Billy Williams on 80th birthday

billy_williams_story.jpg
AP

Cubs honor sweet swingin’ Billy Williams on 80th birthday

After Mother Nature washed out the Cubs and Dodgers Monday at Wrigley Field, the Cubs recognized one of their Hall of Famers.

In honor of outfielder Billy Williams’ 80th birthday on June 15, the Cubs painted Williams’ No. 26 behind home plate. Cubs players are also wearing shirts with his number featured on the front.

On the Cubs Twitter page, there is also a glass case of pictures and Williams’ old jersey with other memorabilia. 

In his illustrious 16-year career with the Cubs, Williams, known as sweet swingin’ Billy from Whistler, hit .290 with 392 home runs, 1353 RBIs, 2510 hits and 911 walks.

His best offensive season came in 1970 when he hit 42 home runs and 129 RBIs, both career bests.

Williams also played with the Oakland Athletics for two seasons after he was traded by the Cubs after the 1974 season.

Williams was a guy you’d see on the field a lot during his day, starting all 162 games four times. In 1970 he eclipsed 161 games.

He was inducted in the Hall of Fame in 1987. Williams appeared in six All-Star Games, he was the 1961 Rookie of the Year and the 1972 NL MVP. He also won the NL batting title that year.

 

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 26th + 27th homers in 1998

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 26th + 27th 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.

Another day in June 1998, another multi-homer game for Sammy Sosa.

Slammin' Sammy connected twice off Carlton Loewer in the same game, a solo shot in the first inning and a 2-run shot int he fifth inning. Both were measured at 380 feet.

Still, the Cubs wound up losing the game 9-8 to the Phillies despite Sosa's effort and a total of 3 runs in the bottom of the eighth and ninth innings combined.

Fun fact: A big part of why the Cubs lost this game was Jose Hernandez's defense. He committed 3 errors at third base and shortstop that led to a pair of unearned runs.