Cubs pondering World Series return for slugger Schwarber
ABS-CBN Sports on Oct 24, 2016 10:19 AM
FILE - In this March 25, 2016, file photo, Chicago Cubs' Kyle Schwarber swings against the Milwaukee Brewers during a spring training baseball game in Mesa, Ariz. Right after the Cubs reached the World Series for the first time since 1945, the focus shifted all the way across the country to Arizona, where Schwarber is making an impressive comeback from major left knee surgery. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)
JAY COHEN, AP Sports Writer
CHICAGO (AP) — Moments after Chicago closed out the National League Championship Series, the biggest question for the Cubs shifted all the way across the country to Arizona, where Kyle Schwarber is making an impressive comeback from major left knee surgery in April.
Game 1 of the World Series is Tuesday in Cleveland, and the Cubs say Schwarber is a possibility for the showdown with the Indians.
"We're not ruling anything out or anything in at this point, and we're not going to get ahead of ourselves, either," president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said.
Schwarber went 0 for 3 with a walk while serving as the designated hitter for the Solar Sox on Saturday in the Arizona Fall League. He watched the Cubs' clinching 5-0 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on a tablet in the dugout between at-bats.
Schwarber was ruled out for the year after he tore two knee ligaments in an outfield collision with Dexter Fowler in Chicago's third game of the season. But he had an encouraging checkup last Monday, clearing the way for the Cubs to take a closer look at the catcher/outfielder.
If Schwarber has no setbacks in Arizona, the possibility of putting his powerful lefty swing on the World Series roster might be too tempting for Epstein to resist, even if returning for the Fall Classic after so much time off seems like a daunting task.
Schwarber hit .333 with a franchise-record five homers in nine playoff games last year, and the Indians had 10 right-handers on their staff for the NLCS against Toronto.
"Playing an American League team in their stadium, being able to utilize a designated hitter and a quality hitter in Schwarber, it would be a big boost for us," pitcher Jake Arrieta said. "If he's ready, obviously. Nobody wants to see a guy as important as Schwarber is to this organization go down again. But if he's capable, if he's in a position strength-wise to be able to help us in that situation, obviously that would be huge for our team."
Schwarber had a couple of decent at-bats on Saturday as he adjusted back to playing.
"I have full confidence in my knee," he said. "My knee doesn't bother me. It was my hands that hurt the worst. I've got about eight blisters on them. I guess I should have kept rubbing a bat or something."
He stayed around the team after he got hurt this April, making the most of Wrigley Field's revamped home clubhouse and earning praise from manager Joe Maddon and his teammates for the way he attacked his rehab.
"It wouldn't surprise me if he is ready," Arrieta said. "It's just in a moment like that, it's different than working out and being in the training room and being a hundred percent there. Not that he can't be a hundred percent, it's just a little scary situation for me. But if he's ready to go, having that bat, that's hard to turn away if it's ready."
AP freelance reporter Jose M. Romero in Arizona contributed to this report.
Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap