An outfield collision with Dexter Fowler in his second game of the season resulted in a torn ACL and MCL for Kyle Schwarber. Much to everyone's surprise, Schwarber was cleared to DH in the World Series, and it was like he'd never been away. Schwarber went 7-for-17 in the Fall Classic with three walks to four strikeouts, even adding a stolen base for good measure in Game 7. The fact that he was able to jump right back in against high-level pitching after nearly seven months away (and only a couple games in the Arizona Fall League to shake the rust) speaks to Schwarber's immense talent at the plate. Unfortunately, he lost catcher eligibility and it's uncertain how often he'll man the backstop in 2017. Chances are, he will play primarily in the outfield coming off such a serious knee injury, and with the emergence of Willson Contreras. Regardless, Schwarber remains a highly appealing option as he's among the best young hitters in the game.
Schwarber has been getting playing time in right field this spring in an effort to get him ready for starts there during the season, MLB.com reports. Specifically, Schwarber could play right field when the Cubs visit PNC Park in Pittsburgh, where right field is a bit smaller than left. This will reduce the amount of ground Schwarber has to cover in his return from two torn ligaments in his left knee. However, Schwarber will likely spend most of his time in left, with Jason Heyward patrolling right field.
Schwarber went 2-for-3 with a home run and four RBI in Friday's spring training win over the White Sox. The home run was a two-run shot in the third inning against Derek Holland. Schwarber is now slashing .276/.364/.621 this spring. He's been named the leadoff hitter for the Cubs, which will put him in front of Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo in the lineup. As a result, Schwarber should see plenty of pitches to hit and score a bunch of runs, provided he stays healthy.
Schwarber will bat leadoff for the Cubs this season, Bruce Levine of CBS Chicago reports. He had been the frontrunner for the spot this offseason, but it was finally confirmed Friday. The strategy for manager Joe Maddon here is to bat Kris Bryant second and Anthony Rizzo third, thus forcing pitchers to face a deadly trio. It's unclear who will take over on Schwarber's off days, but Ben Zobrist, Albert Almora, and Addison Russell have been mentioned as options. Schwarber, meanwhile, will have an immediate chance to contribute after missing nearly the entire 2016 season with a torn ACL and MCL.
Schwarber is the early favorite to bat leadoff for the Cubs in 2017, Patrick Mooney of CSN Chicago reports. The 23-year-old missed nearly all of 2016 with a torn ACL and MCL, however, he made a miraculous comeback in the playoffs for the World Series champs, slashing .412/.500/.471 in 20 plate appearances during the postseason. Although it was a small sample size, manager Joe Maddon is apparently sold on his ability to get on base and will give him the chance to lead off next season. When Schwarber is resting, Ben Zobrist will likely step in to bat leadoff.
Schwarber caught a bullpen session from John Lackey on Friday, MLB.com reports. Schwarber had his left leg extended while in the squat to avoid putting extra stress on the knee, so he's clearly easing back into the position. Still, this is a good sign for Schwarber, who is expected to serve as the team's third catcher this season. Look for him to do more work behind the plate during spring training, but Schwarber's primary position this year will be left field.