Nationals’ Kyle Schwarber: Cubs helped shape ‘the person I am today’

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Schwarber: Cubs helped shape ‘the person I am today’ originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

The view was different entering Wrigley Field on Monday for Kyle Schwarber.

“It was weird seeing Murphy's (Bleachers) coming in on that side,” Schwarber said before the game. “But it was nice being able to walk in here, obviously a lot of great memories.”

He returned Monday for his first game at Wrigley Field since the Cubs non-tendered him in December. Before this year, Wrigley had been the only major league ballpark the 28-year-old outfielder had called home. Now he’s back, with the Nationals, for a four-game series.

“I wouldn't say I'm living in the past,” Schwarber said, “but there's a lot of things here that made me the person I am today and the ballplayer I am today. So, there's things that you definitely keep with you. And so it's hard to forget because this is where you came up, this is where you grew up in the big leagues and you had the people around you that formed you into a major league player.”

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The Cubs drafted Schwarber No. 4 overall in the 2014 MLB draft. He made his MLB debut the next year.

“A guy with a personality I thought was infectious from the day he got here, and who he was and his winning attitude,” said Cubs manager David Ross, who joined team as a free agent ahead of the 2015 season.

Schwarber rounded out the young hitting core of Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant and Javy Báez, a group that expedited the Cubs’ rebuild timeline. Then in 2016, Schwarber infamously returned from what had been dubbed a “season ending” knee injury for a storied World Series performance.

“We're all going to be specially bonded for the rest of our lives with what we did in ’16,” Schwarber said.

Sunday night, Schwarber said, he tired to close his eyes around 11 p.m., but he couldn’t fall asleep until well past midnight. He was on the first team bus to Wrigley the next afternoon. That gave him extra time to reorient himself on the visitor’s side, catch up with behind-the-scenes Cubs staffers, and step out onto the field early.

“I think it was the same as we left it,” he said.

The reunions continued during batting practice as he chatted with Ross and other former teammates. Right before the game, Schwarber had his moment with Cubs fans.

The Cubs played a tribute video for Schwarber to a raucous ovation from a limited-capacity crowd. He waved his hat to the stands and jogged to meet Ross at home plate. There, Schwarber's former teammate and manager presented him with a green scoreboard card bearing his number 12.

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