(CBS) Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein called the demotion of outfielder Kyle Schwarber to Triple-A Iowa a needed move Thursday because he “looks more like a slugger than a hitter” amid his season-long struggles.
Epstein wouldn’t commit to a timeline for how long Schwarber’s stint will be at Triple-A, answering that question by replying, “Until he’s himself again.”
“I wouldn’t expect it to be too long, but I also didn’t expect us to be in this position,” Epstein said in an interview with Matt Spiegel and Danny Parkins on 670 The Score on Thursday. “Neither did Kyle, neither did just about anybody else. There are no certainties in this game, but we still have full belief in him.”
Schwarber is hitting .171 with 12 homers, 28 RBIs and a .673 OPS in 64 games in the big leagues this season, with a strikeout rate of 28.7 percent. He has looked nothing like the player he was as a rookie in 2015 and in his scintillating World Series performance in 2016, when he returned early from a serious knee injury to hit .412 on the game’s biggest stage.
Not helping matters is the pressure Schwarber has piled on himself in the awful start.
“We reached a point recently where on the mental side, it has reached a point where it was really tough,” Epstein said. “As hard as Kyle was working — working harder than anyone — it had gotten so deep that it was hard for him to take the things he was working on in the cage and take them out into the game with him. You reach a point where you’re trying to survive. You’re just trying to put the ball in play. You’re not yourself. You’re searching for your identity as a hitter on a nightly basis. That’s just really hard. And it is not atypical at all for players to need to change their environment in order to rediscover who they are.”