(CBS) What was unexpected just weeks ago has happened.
The Cubs have included Kyle Schwarber on their 25-man roster for the World Series, they announced Tuesday, about six-and-a-half months after he suffered a torn ACL and LCL in his left knee in the first week of the regular season. After a lot of hard work led to a speedier recovery than expected and recent action in the Arizona Fall League, Schwarber is back with the Cubs with the hope of adding pop to their lineup with a championship on the line.
To make room for Schwarber, the Cubs didn’t included lefty reliever Rob Zastryzny on their roster. That means the Cubs will go with 11 pitchers and 14 position players in the World Series.
Schwarber is expected to serve as the designated hitter during games at Progressive Field in Cleveland and as a pinch-hitter in games at Wrigley Field. He’s not expected to play defense in the field. The Indians host the Cubs in Game 1 on Tuesday night, with a 7:08 p.m. first pitch that can be heard on 670 The Score.
There’s no “sentimentality” in including Schwarber on the roster, general manager Jed Hoyer said Monday before the final decision was made.
“If we do put him on the roster, it’s because we think he can hit a homer, honestly,” Hoyer said on the Boers and Bernstein Show on 670 The Score.
Schwarber hit .246 with 16 homers and 43 RBIs in 69 regular-season games as a rookie in 2015. He also hit five homers in the playoffs, a franchise record.
After Schwarber suffered the gruesome knee injury in an outfield collision with Dexter Fowler in early April, Cubs officials were adamant in the ensuring months that Schwarber wouldn’t return this season. Saturday was the first that it was publicly acknowledged he could return before 2017.
President of baseball operations Theo Epstein first brought up the idea of a Schwarber return with owner Tom Ricketts about one-and-a-half weeks ago, Ricketts told the Mully and Hanley Show on Monday morning.
Back in August, Schwarber left the door open ever so slightly to a return when 670 The Score’s Mark Grote asked if there was “any chance” of a comeback in 2016.
“There’s no comment on that — most likely probably not,” Schwarber said. “So we’re shooting for spring, but I’m going to push myself as hard as I can to come back as soon as I can. It sounds like it’s going to be spring.”
Here’s a look at the Cubs’ roster for the World Series:
Albert Almora Jr.