Here’s some news that will no doubt pique the interest of Chicago Cubs fans. It should also have the Cleveland Indians paying close attention.
Injured slugger Kyle Schwarber, who hit a franchise-record five home runs during a remarkable postseason last season, is reportedly headed to the Arizona Fall League to continue his recovery from knee surgery.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Schwarber has been added to the Mesa Solar Sox taxi squad and will serve as their designated hitter Saturday night. Being on the taxi squad means a player can only play Wednesday and Saturday. It would be fitting for a player that’s limited physically. However, there’s already strong speculation the Cubs are mainly looking to test Schwarber’s knee and perhaps knock some rust ahead of a potential return in the World Series.
Yeah, it might sound like a long shot. But that’s better than no shot.
Oh, and the medical reports sound good too.
Theo after Schwarber's six-month checkup: “We got news that was beyond better than we could have expected by any reasonable standard."
— Patrick Mooney (@CSNMooney) October 22, 2016
On April 7, Schwarber tore the ACL and LCL in his left knee in a collision with center fielder Dexter Fowler. He underwent surgery a few days later and was ruled out for the season. Of course, many fans were immediately talking about how cool it would be if Schwarber could return as a designated hitter in the World Series. It was wishful thinking for most. For others, it was probably therapeutic. A way to deal with the pain and disappointment of losing a key player.
Now though, there’s real hope.
The Tribune also notes that Cubs officials had been adamant that Schwarber would not return this season, but that the possibility of him playing winter ball did exist. Obviously, we’re well ahead of the projected time frame. Now we wait to see if he’s healthy enough and ready enough for live pitching to warrant inclusion on the roster.
Joe Maddon confirms "there's a chance" Kyle Schwarber would play for #Cubs if they make World Series.
— Chris Kuc (@ChrisKuc) October 22, 2016
#Cubs Theo on Schwarber: "We're not ruling anything in, we're not ruling anything out. We're not getting ahead of ourselves"
— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) October 22, 2016
The Cubs don’t have any concrete answers yet, but there seems to be some real optimism.
If Schwarber can play, this will conjure up images of Willis Reed’s dramatic return to the New York Knicks for Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals. Or better yet, Kirk Gibson hobbling around the bases after hitting a pinch-hit walk-off home in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series on one leg.
But this could even go beyond those instances in history. Granted, the Cubs still have work to do to get past the Dodgers, but if Schwarber is somehow a contributor in ending a 108-year World Series championship drought, it would be the ultimate comeback story. His place in Cubs lore and baseball history would be cemented forever.
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