Kyle Schwarber praises his Cubs’ teammates for helping him return for the World Series
CLEVELAND – As if making their first World Series since World War II wasn’t an inspiring story in itself, here came an injured slugger walking his way into Progressive Field.
Striding down the long, florescent-lit hallway, Kyle Schwarber made his way toward the Cubs locker room for the first time in a regular season game in over six months. It was at Chase Field that it appeared his season was lost on April 7th when he collided with Dexter Fowler in the outfield, tearing his ACL and LCL.
But somehow there he was, walking into a room of assembled media where he will bat fifth for the Cubs as the Designated Hitter in Game 1 of the World Series against the Indians. It’s the first for the team in the Fall Classic since 1945 and no one was sure they’ve would make it till that final out hit Anthony Rizzo’s glove on Saturday night at Wrigley Field in Game 6 of the NLCS.
It wasn’t much earlier that Schwarber found out that he had a chance to get a few swings in the biggest games of the season.
“I’d probably say about six days ago,” said the second-year player when asked when he thought he might have a shot to play in the World Series, drawing a few laughs from the scores of reporters in the room.
Indeed it was an appointment with his doctor before the trip out West before the NLCS that gave hope to a comeback. Schwarber said the doctor told him his knee was strong and wouldn’t hold him back ‘from doing anything’ in the postseason.
Instead of celebrating the Cubs’ pennant-clincher at Wrigley Field on Saturday night, Schwarber was sent out to the Arizona Fall League where he joined the Mesa Solar Sox for a pair of games. He was 0-for-3 on Saturday but had no issues with his knee then followed it up with a hit in the contest on Monday, then flew to Cleveland to join the team for the World Series.
“It probably hasn’t hit,” said Schwarber of making it back to the Cubs before the end of the season. “I say when I hit that line a lot of emotions will come pouring out. I’ll probably cry at some point today. It was a long road but once we step in between those lines, it’s game time. I’m gonna be locked in, I’m gonna be ready to go.
“I’ll go out there and try to win this.”
But it’s not like Schwarber is returning to the team after being away for a long period of time. Throughout most of the season Schwarber has been in the dugout as the Cubs won 103 games and two playoff series, doing rehab and watching video mostly preparing for the 2017 Cubs season.
Being included by the team during this historic run is something that meant a lot to Schwarber, who figures to add a lot to the Cubs’ lineup. He hit 16 home runs with 43 RBI’s in 69 regular season games for the Cubs as a rookie in 2015 but came alive in the team’s run to the NLCS.
In nine games Schwarber hit .333 with five homers and eight RBI’s, including a memorable shot into the Allegheny River in the NL Wild Card game at Pittsburgh and a towering homer onto the right field scoreboard in Game 4 of the NLDS against the Cardinals.
Those five round-trippers are the Cubs’ career playoff record which he is grateful to have the chance to add to for the next week.
“They were a big rock in my rehab,” said Schwarber of the support he got from his teammates and the organization. “I could have easily just gone to Arizona, gone through the motions and rehabbed but these guys really made me kick it up a notch and I’m sitting here today mostly because of those guys.”
He’ll be standing in the batter’s box early in Game 1, perhaps with a tear or two, adding another memorable chapter to a storybook Cubs’ season.