Posted on October 23, 2016 by Bryan Zarpentine
After the Chicago Cubs finished off the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLCS Saturday night, the World Series is set between the Cubs and the Cleveland Indians. Aside from all the obvious storylines, in a rather unique twist, we could see a couple players in the series that we didn’t expect to see. For starters, the Indians are hoping that pitcher Danny Salazar is able to return from a forearm injury and pitch in the World Series after not appearing in a game since September 9. But in an even more interesting twist, the Cubs haven’t ruled out the return of Kyle Schwarber for the Fall Classic.
Schwarber emerged as a potential star for the Cubs last season, but in the third game of the regular season this year, he tore ligaments in his knee while trying to make a play in left field, and was all but ruled out for the entire season. However, before Saturday’s NLCS game, the Cubs activated Schwarber from the 60-day DL, opening the door for him to be selected for the 25-man World Series roster.
Earlier this week, Schwarber was cleared by doctors to participate in all baseball activities. “It was a pleasant surprise,” said Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein before Saturday’s game. “We got news that was better than expected.”
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Epstein didn’t make any guarantees, but he says the Cubs will entertain the possibility of including Schwarber on the World Series roster. “He asked for a chance to do this,” Epstein said. “With as hard as Kyle has worked and as much as this means to him — and potentially us — we wanted to give him that opportunity.”
Schwarber was taking batting practice with the team earlier in the week, and with the Cubs activating him from the DL on Saturday, he was able to participate in the Arizona Fall League, where he was in the lineup on Saturday for the Mesa Solar Sox. Schwarber was 0 for 3 with a walk in Saturday’s game, sneaking down to the clubhouse in between at bats to keep an eye on the Cubs and Dodgers.
“We’re going to evaluate him day to day from a medical standpoint and a baseball standpoint,” said Epstein, who noted the only medical issue with Schwarber is blisters on his hands from taking so much batting practice over the past week. “We’re not ruling anything in; we’re not ruling anything out. We’re not getting ahead of ourselves. We have a lot of work here before this becomes pertinent.”
Schwarber could potentially replace either Miguel Montero or Jorge Soler on the World Series roster. Montero is 1 for 8 in the postseason, but that one hit was a grand slam in Game 1 of the NLCS. Soler is hitless in eight postseason at bats. It’s likely that Schwarber would only serve as a DH in any World Series games played in Cleveland and a pinch hitter when the series shifts to Wrigley Field.
At this point, there’s no assurance that Schwarber will join the Cubs for the World Series, but there’s no doubt that it’s an intriguing possibility. At the start of the season, the Cubs no doubt envisioned Schwarber playing a role in helping the team win the World Series, and it looks like there’s at least a chance that plan could come to fruition.