Kyle Schwarber still wants to be a catcher, but the Cubs are understandably hesitant

Theo Epstein and Joe Maddon both seem less than enthusiastic about his prospects.

Kyle Schwarber’s return for the World Series was nothing less than astounding.

I wrote about before the series, saying it would be awesome if he played well.  And it was awesome. Schwarber was a stud, slashing .412/.500/.471 en route to a Cubs championship.

Of course, that was as a designated or pinch hitter only, as he wasn’t cleared to play in the field. And now, a year after that brutal knee injury, Schwarber is ready to contribute once again on defense, to the best of his ability. He was drafted as a catcher out of Indiana, and the Cubs made every effort to see if he could stick behind the plate.

But a combination of a very valuable bat and less-than-stellar receiving skills made that unlikely from the start, and last year’s knee injury seemingly ended the dream permanently.

Yet with spring training underway for the Cubs, Schwarber is still holding out hope, as he told the AP:

Schwarber understands he’s third behind Willson Contreras and Miguel Montero. He also is coming off a major injury to his left knee that kept him out for most of last season. Even so, he still wants time behind the plate.

“It’s going to be limited,” Schwarber said.

“My role right now is going to be most likely the third catcher. I got Willson and Miggy ahead of me. I got to be ready at any time to come in from left field to maybe catch or give those guys a blow. It’s not like I’m going to be the everyday starter.”

Having a guy who can play the position in a pinch is one thing, but the Cubs seemingly aren’t going to rush him back into the rotation, according to both Theo Epstein:

“We’re not going to give him too much,” Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said of Schwarber’s time behind the plate. “His future is too valuable. We want him to have the longest possible career. He makes such a great impact on us with his bat — and with the person that he is — that we don’t want to do anything to jeopardize the length and impact of his career.”

And Joe Maddon:

“The main thing is to have him in the lineup,” Maddon said. “He’s a young man with many more years to come.”

That sounds like management humoring Schwarber for now, and interested in keeping him as a potential third-catcher option, but not wanting to commit to any real future as a full-time catcher. They’re walking a tightrope there too, though, because Schwarber is a person, who obviously still wants to catch. They can’t just crush his spirit.

But there’s a 100% chance if the Cubs were forced to choose between having him catch full-time or play left full-time, they’d choose the outfield. And rightfully so.

Still, Schwarber’s commitment to improvement is great, as is his love for the game. Hopefully he can stay healthy this season, because he’s so fun to watch. Plus he very well might be the Cubs new leadoff hitter, and watching Schwarber/Bryant/Rizzo come up to start a game would be a lot of fun.

[AP]

About Jay Rigdon

Jay is a writer and editor for The Comeback, and a contributor at Awful Announcing. He is not a strong swimmer.

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