(CBS) As slugger Kyle Schwarber has finished off his rehab from tearing ligaments in his left knee last April and rounds into top form, there has been plenty of discussion about the future of his catching career.
The Cubs made clear early in spring training that the overwhelming majority of his time will come in left field, though he’d still work periodically at catcher. With the regular season a few weeks away, Schwarber will serve as the team’s third catcher, with a role not exactly defined but something slightly more than that of an emergency backstop.
And just how big will that role be? Manager Joe Maddon gave an indication when asked on the Spiegel and Parkins Show on Tuesday whether Schwarber would catch over or under 75 innings in the regular season. It will probably be less than that.
“That’s probably over on the catching, in a perfect world,” Maddon said, a reference to the 75-inning number being too high. “You’re not looking to start him in a game. You’re looking for him to pick moments up. I don’t know. If that (over 75 innings) happens, that probably means one of the other two guys got hurt, which you’re not looking for that.”
Maddon loves versatility and the ability to moves players around late in games to produce preferred matchups, and he emphasized that’s what he likes about the possibility of Schwarber catching. Willson Contreras and Miguel Montero will get the overwhelming majority of the workload, of course.
“We’ve gone a lot with just two catchers and having an emergency catcher in the past,” Maddon said. “I always like having a good E-catcher, and that would be Kyle this year. He’s going to be able to do that. It’s going to be fine. But I’m not uncomfortable with going the other way, because that’s one of our goals this year, is to be uncomfortable. I’m OK with all of that stuff. The big thing is it’s about Kyle. When Kyle’s able to do this, he wants to do this, we want him to do it, but not to the point of re-injuring him. So make him solvent, get him back so that he’s comfortable doing it but not to the point where you’re going to want to start him. He’s going to be more like a late-inning kind of gig or if something were to break down during the game.”
Listen to Maddon’s full interview with Spiegel and Parkins below.