(CBS) With the start of Cubs spring training about two weeks away, Kyle Schwarber still holds out hope he could have a role as a catcher in 2017 while also understanding he may be on the verge of becoming a full-time outfielder.
After sitting out 169 games with torn ligaments in his left knee in the 2016 season before making a triumphant return in the World Series, Schwarber’s positional future remains uncertain. He came up as a catcher and split time behind the plate and in the outfield in his 2015 rookie campaign.
“Anything’s possible,” Schwarber said on an interview on the Mully and Hanley Show on 670 The Score on Thursday morning. “Obviously, I still watch to catch. I’m not oblivious. We have one of the best young catchers in the game in Willson Contreras. You know, that guy’s one heckuva catcher, and I had the pleasure to play with him in the minor leagues and have seen how he’s kind of grown into the player he is now. And what he’s going to become is special.
“I feel like I have something to give back there. I have a passion for catching. I’ve done it my whole life. I still feel like I have something to offer, but you know, at the end of the day, it comes down to that (knee) injury (of mine), if we feel like it’s going to be smart to put me back there after having the big blowout.”
A full medical evaluation in spring training and then a sit-down with Cubs brass will go a long way in determining if Schwarber will catch at all in 2017, he said.
“I don’t know how that’s going to go,” Schwarber said. “Obviously, I have to have a meeting with our team doctor and have him evaluate me with my knee and everything. I’m sure they’ll give me and the front office his opinion on it, if I should catch or not. We’ll just go from there.”
Schwarber’s defense was uneven in 2015, notably as the Mets swept the Cubs in the National League Championship Series. Because of te injury, Schwarber hasn’t had a chance to prove himself defensively since then.
“I’m not going to let a couple plays define me as a defensive player,” Schwarber said. “I feel like I can hold my own out in the outfield. I’m not too worried about that. I’m going to work my butt off to be as good as I can be defensively. I’ve been doing a lot of work this offseason, taking some fly balls.”
“I can’t let a few plays define the type of player I feel like I am and that my teammate feel I am. I’m a guy who’s going to give it 100 percent every time I’m out there on the field, and if I make a mistake, I’d rather it be an aggressive mistake than a passive mistake.”
Schwarber also indicated he’d be happy to lead off for the Cubs if that’s what manager Joe Maddon wants. General manager Jed Hoyer has been a vocal supporter of putting Schwarber at lead-off after center fielder Dexter Fowler signed with the Cardinals in the offseason.
Schwarber has a .352 on-base percentage in his two MLB seasons.
“That’s obviously up to the skip, and I support his decision either way,” Schwarber said. “It’s just another spot in the lineup.”
Listen to Schwarber’s full interview with Mully and Hanley below.