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Slugger Kyle Schwarber is preparing for any role with Cubs — including DH: 'I'm going to be ready when I'm called on'

Mark Gonzales, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Baseball

CHICAGO -- Kyle Schwarber will gladly accept any role manager David Ross presents him, including the designated-hitter duties that will be instituted in the National League for the shortened 60-game season.

Schwarber has developed into an adequate left fielder since making the transition from catcher after the Chicago Cubs selected him in the first round of the 2014 draft. But finding a spot for him will be a challenge, considering center fielders Ian Happ and Albert Almora Jr. hit well enough in spring training to be considered for more playing time and Steven Souza Jr. can play all three outfield positions well.

Schwarber, who finished the 2019 season living up to his first-round billing at the plate -- he hit .280 with 20 home runs, 49 RBIs, a .366 on-base percentage and .997 OPS in the second half -- is determined to make the most of an unprecedented season.

"This year in general is just a messed up year in terms of you know this is going to be a 60-game sprint, hopefully more in the postseason," Schwarber said Wednesday during a conference call. "But you can't get caught up on the fact of I'm not going get the innings I want in left in the preseason and maybe during the season. Whatever it is. I'm not worried about that.

"If I'm playing the field, you guys know I'll go 110 percent. If I make a mistake it's because I was going 110 percent and it wasn't a passive mistake. I'm not worried about that, and I'm going to be ready when I'm called on."

Schwarber appreciated that Ross contacted him in advance about the various roles projected for him.

 

"And it's just the way it is," Schwarber said. "And trust me -- I'm all for whatever he wants me to do."

The Cubs will play 40 games against National League Central teams, and the Reds' Wade Miley and Pirates' Steven Brault are the only opposing left-handed starters. That means Ross is likely to stack his lineup with left-handed hitters, including Anthony Rizzo, Jason Heyward and Schwarber.

Schwarber is Ross' best option as DH -- he is a lifetime .299 hitter with nine home runs, 20 RBIs, a .367 on-base percentage and 1.046 OPS in 22 games in that role.

And the DH could be implemented into the NL on a full-time basis as part of the next collective bargaining agreement after the 2021 season.

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