(CBS) Cubs manager Joe Maddon dropped outfielder Kyle Schwarber from the lead-off spot over the weekend, but he anticipates Schwarber will return to that spot at some point this season.
“Yeah, absolutely, I totally agree with that,” Maddon said on the Spiegel and Parkins Show on Tuesday. “If somebody’s not doing well, all of a sudden, people kind of jump on the negative bandwagon, but listen, Schwarbs last year during the World Series, everybody would’ve had him hitting one-two-three-four-five-six. He’s just struggling right now. He’ll come out of it. And when he comes out of it, who knows how long (Ben Zobrist) is going to be able to maintain this. If somebody were to get hurt, you got to move it around again.”
Ben Zobrist has moved to lead-off for the Cubs, at least for the time being. Maddon once again pointed out part of the reason he was comfortable with the change was because rookie Ian Happ has produced at a high level, hitting .357 entering play Tuesday. That has allowed Maddon to protect slugging first baseman Anthony Rizzo with Happ being him in the order, a spot Zobrist often filled previously. The absence of Happ on the team out of spring training was a big reason why Maddon felt he had to keep Zobrist down in the order and not use him at lead-off, he said.
For now, Schwarber has moved to the No. 2 spot. It will again go Zobrist-Schwarber when the Cubs host the Giants on Tuesday night.
Zobrist is hitting .252 with a .347 on-base percentage. Schwarber is hitting .184 with a .307 on-base percentage.
“Right now, it looks really good,” Maddon said. “The big part about Zo is he’s so able to work a good at-bat, even if he’s seeing a guy for the first time, of course that’s going to be a little more difficult. But he knows how to lay off pitches outside the strike zone and force a pitcher over the plate.
“He’s filling that role well.”
Listen to Maddon’s full interview below.