First baseman Frank Schwindel knows there’s no replacing Anthony Rizzo, the former face of the Cubs who was traded to the Yankees last month.
“He's an unbelievable player — Gold Glover, All-Star," Schwindel said. "He’s one of the most liked guys in the city."
While there’s no replacing Rizzo, Schwindel, 29, is capitalizing on his opportunity with the Cubs after a long journey to Chicago. He went 3-for-5 Friday with a 440-foot home run.
Schwindel, the Royals' 18th-round pick in 2013, made his MLB debut with Kansas City in 2019 but was designated for assignment after a brief stint. He spent the rest of 2019 in the minor leagues with the Tigers and 2020 at Detroit’s alternate site.
He signed a minor-league deal with the A’s last winter, debuting with Oakland in June, and was designated for assignment after eight games.
The Cubs, who claimed him off waivers last month, called him up on July 30 in wake of their trade deadline selloff that included Rizzo.
“I was very excited to get picked up by the Cubs,” Schwindel said. “It's just an awesome opportunity and they made a bunch of moves, which gave me an opportunity to show up and play. I’ve been having a great time so far and just want to keep it going.”
For all the ups and downs, Schwindel finds the positives in his journey. He cherishes moments like making the Royals’ Opening Day roster in 2019 and hitting a home run in his A’s debut last month.
“Those are moments nobody can take from me, and it makes all that hard work worth it,” he said. “Going back and coming here and getting the opportunity to play every day lately, I’m just trying to make the most of it.”
So far, so good with the Cubs. In 12 games entering Saturday, he held a .395/.439/.737 slash line (15-for-38) with three home runs and nine RBIs.
“He’s fitting right in,” manager David Ross said. “He’s been in the middle of the order and come off the bench and pinch hit and done a really nice job. Faced [Craig] Kimbrel, got a base hit off the bench.
“Just different roles for him and he’s been ready to go in every situation we put him in. He’s been a real bright spot since he’s come up.
"A pretty consistent at-bat of being able to touch the baseball.”
Cubs fans are only beginning to know Schwindel's name, but he's hoping to make an impression on them.
"I'm going to do the best I can and hopefully the fans like me even half as much as him someday," Schwindel said of Rizzo.
"You can't beat this opportunity, but he's an unbelievable player and he brought the city so much joy. He won't be forgotten and obviously they'll still love him."