CHICAGO – There are subtle things that were different about the experience that he got very used to starting late in the 2015 season.
Of all things, in started thanks to a gift from his former teammate left in the outfield between innings.
Kyle Schwarber came out to left field early in Monday’s game between the Cubs and the Nationals at Wrigley Field and found some candy left by Kris Bryant.
“I defintely eat a Twix on the field and led to a hit, so I might have to eat a Twix tomorrow,” said Schwarber. “I looked at him, like, ‘Are you crazy, man?’ It was a funny gesture.”
Another came another from a fan when he parked a two-run homer to left-center field, who promptly threw the ball back per the Wrigley Field bleacher tradition.
“I was like ‘They threw it back?'” said Schwarber, who got the ball and plans to keep it as a keepsake.
Those were two memorable moments from the return of two memorable players to Wrigley Field as members of the Nationals on Monday night, providing a scene that Cubs’ fans may get used to in the coming years.
Schwarber along with Jon Lester, whom the team decided not to bring back, returns to face their former team greeted by cheers from the fans and former teammates. There were videos and ovations to salute the contributions of both to five playoff appearances and a World Series title in 2016.
“It’s just different, man,” said Lester when asked about how Monday’s experience compared to others in his decorated career. “You’re pitching against your buddies, you’re pitching against guys that you’ve grinded with for a lot of years and build relationships with. It’s just a different kinda mindset – shouldn’t say mindset – just a different feeling than pitching in a playoff game or something like that.”
Lester even had his moment with temmate Anthony Rizzo as the first baseman talked about on MLB Network’s “Intentional Talk” on Tuesday. According to Rizzo, the pitcher called that he would hit a grounder to his old teammate.
Moments like this make homecomings like Monday, which came in a 7-3 loss by the Nationals to the Cubs, quite special for all involved, where saying hello again can be a little fun while also reflective.
“It was really nice, it meant a lot,” said Schwaber of the evening. “Little nerves there on that first at-bat but very nice of them and a thank you to the fans and the organization for doing that.”
The feeling’s mutual.