Cubs

Kyle Schwarber isn't done with left field: 'People love to view me as a DH'

Kyle Schwarber isn't done with left field: 'People love to view me as a DH'

Kyle Schwarber’s line drive was still racing up the right field line, and he showed no signs of hesitation as he rounded second base. He was going to third.

“As a manager the heart rate goes up just a hair,” Cubs skipper Davis Ross recalled of that moment in Sunday’s scrimmage, “and you’re really watching closely.”

No manager wants his players risking injury on the third day of Summer Camp. But there was no need to worry. Schwarber, who will be one of the players filling the Cubs’ new designated hitter spot this season, trotted into third standing. Ross's heart rate slowed, and he was pleased that Schwarber felt comfortable legging out triples so early in camp.

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The addition of the universal DH this season gives the Cubs more flexibility with how they can utilize that confidence. The team is planning a DH-by-committee approach, so Schwarber will still play left field some games. Ross promised as much before Summer Camp opened.

“Trust me, I’m all for whatever he wants me to do,” Schwarber said Wednesday. “I’m just happy for the open communication he’s had with me, and I’ve been able to put in my head already what to expect going into the season.”

From utility player Ian Happ to general manager Jed Hoyer to Ross, people within the organization have raved about the opportunities the universal DH provides the Cubs.

As Schwarber put it: “It really helps our team with the fact that we have a great lineup as is, and now we can lengthen it and lengthen our defense even more.”

Between their two catchers and outfield platoons, the Cubs have more hitters than they can fit in the lineup.

“I think baseball’s at a point now where having nine hitters in the lineup in the NL is a good thing,” Happ said. “I think it’s a good thing for our baseball team specifically. It gives us a lot of flexibility in a few different spots, and I’m excited to see how it plays out this year.”

The universal DH has been long expected. So far, it's only guaranteed for this season, but during negotiations players and owners appeared ready to adopt the rule through 2021, the end of the current collective bargaining agreement. Because they could agree on little else, it was left on the table.

“Pitchers are starting to specialize from a very young age now,” said Happ, who serves as the Cubs' MLB Players Association representative. “You have guys at 10 years old or 14 years old who haven’t picked up a bat or haven’t hit, and then you’re asking them to do that at the highest level in baseball. I think that’s a little silly.”

The universal DH will likely be discussed in the next round of CBA negotiations.

“If the DH is here to stay, so be it,” Schwarber said. “But my job as a player is to prepare to play the field. At the end of the day it’s the manager’s decision to see who plays the field and who’s the DH.”

The Schwarber-should-be-a-DH contingent will no doubt grow louder this season as he steps into that role more often. But judging by Schwarber’s chuckle when a reporter brought up that school of thought, he doesn’t seem to mind.

“I know how people love to view me as a designated hitter,” he said, “but I’m going to still go out there and play my best defense and make really good plays.”

 

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Cardinals have 13 positive COVID-19 cases, weekend Cubs series tentatively on

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USA TODAY

Cardinals have 13 positive COVID-19 cases, weekend Cubs series tentatively on

The Cardinals' four-game series against the Tigers this Tuesday-Thursday has been postponed in wake of St. Louis' COVID-19 outbreak.

In a statement Monday, MLB said 13 members of the Cardinals, seven players and six staff, have tested positive for the coronavirus in the last week. The club first learned of two positive tests on Thursday, ahead of their weekend series against the Brewers, which later was postponed.

The Cardinals have been quarantined at their Milwaukee hotel room and will continue to be tested daily. MLB said the tentative plan is for St. Louis to resume its schedule Friday against the Cubs. The situation obviously is fluid.

“I would imagine that we’re probably not playing those games this weekend. But I can’t fully speak to that,” Cubs pitcher Jon Lester said on Sunday. "That’s just my opinion. Maybe there’s a way where we flip the schedule around where we’re playing somebody else. I think guys right now just want to keep playing.

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“It sucks that we’re dealing with this, but it’s the nature of the beast right now. The league I’m sure will alter the plans going forward. If we’re in St. Louis on Friday, we’re in St. Louis on Friday. We’ll figure it out, and we’ll try to beat the Cardinals and move on to the next day. But right now, as of today, I don’t see that happening.”

The Cubs play four games against the Royals this week, including two in Kansas City on Wednesday and Thursday.

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Kris Bryant returns to Cubs lineup vs. Royals after clearing health protocols

Kris Bryant returns to Cubs lineup vs. Royals after clearing health protocols

Kris Bryant returned to the Cubs lineup Monday, after missing two games for an upset stomach and the health protocols that came with it.

Bryant is penciled in to play left field and lead off in the Cubs’ series opener against the Royals at Wrigley Filed on Monday. David Bote, who filled in for Bryant over the weekend, remains at third base.

On Saturday, the Cubs scratched Bryant minutes before first pitch, due to an upset stomach. Gastrointestinal issues can be a symptom of COVID-19 in some cases, so Bryant left the ballpark early and took a rapid response COVID-19 test.

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“He just really needs to be commended for going in and getting checked out,” Cubs manager David Ross said Sunday. “With all we’ve got going on, we’re trying to take the right precautions to keep everybody safe.”

Both that initial rapid test and the regularly scheduled diagnostic test that Bryant took with the team on Friday came back negative, according to the Cubs. Bryant was scheduled to take a second rapid test on Monday before MLB would clear him to return.

 

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