Posted on October 28, 2016 by Bryan Zarpentine
The Chicago Cubs have received an unexpected boost during the first two games of the 2016 World Series from Kyle Schwarber, who surprisingly was able to return from a serious knee injured he suffered in April and be the team’s DH in Games 1 and 2. However, Schwarber’s impact over the next three games may be limited, as he will not play left field when the series shifts to Wrigley Field. Schwarber has not been medically cleared to play in the field by doctors, and so he will be limited to a pinch-hitting role during Games 3, 4, and 5.
“Kyle has not been medically cleared to play the field, so he will not be in the lineup the next three games,” team president Theo Epstein confirmed Thursday night. “But we do look forward to him impacting the game as a pinch hitter for us, and certainly should the series return to Cleveland, he’ll be eligible to continue as a designated hitter.”
The Cubs were pleasantly surprised when Schwarber was cleared to hit and run. After playing two games in the Arizona Fall League to shake off the rust, he was Chicago’s DH in Games 1 and 2. Schwarber made an immediate impact in those two games, going 3 for 7 with two walks and two RBIs, instantly becoming one of the biggest headlines of the World Series. However, doctors have not cleared him to move laterally after tearing ligaments in his knee in April, and that will preclude him from being able to play in the outfield.
“This was not just an ACL tear, it was a complete blowout of his knee and multiple ligaments, and an eight-month expected return to play, best-case scenario,” Epstein said Thursday, reminding us that having Schwarber available at all is an unexpected bonus for the Cubs. “We’re all disappointed, but we’re all really excited to have him as a pinch-hitter and fully confident.”
Meanwhile, Schwarber is not letting the news get him down. “It’s not disappointing at all,” he said. “It was a long shot at the most. You know, obviously I want to be out there for my teammates and everything, it’s just the competitor inside me, but facts are facts. I just can’t physically do it.” Schwarber added, “I know my role now, and I’m going to embrace it.”
With Schwarber out of the outfield picture, the Cubs will likely stick with Ben Zobrist in left field and Dexter Fowler in center field. Of course, right field remains a revolving door, as Joe Maddon elected not to start the struggling Jason Heyward in either of the first two games. Starting Schwarber in left field and moving Zobrist to right field would have solved that conundrum for Maddon, who now must choose among Heyward, Jorge Soler, Albert Almora Jr., and Chris Coghlan to start in right field.
Of course, with so many options in right field, it does give Maddon the option to pinch hit Schwarber for whomever starts at any point in the game, even if it’s in the early innings, knowing there are plenty of possible replacements. In that sense, Schwarber still has a chance to make a big impact over the next three games of the World Series, just not as big as the Cubs may have been hoping to have from their unlikely hero.