Cubs' Epstein convinced Schwarber can make it as catcher
The Cubs selected Kyle Schwarber on Tuesday from Class AA Tennessee, and they plan to use him as their designated hitter beginning Wednesday for two games in Cleveland and three in Minnesota.
Schwarber came on to catch the ninth inning in Tuesday night's 6-0 loss to the Indians at Wrigley Field. After this coming weekend, Schwarber will go to Class AAA Iowa.
The 22-year-old Schwarber, the Cubs' top draft pick last year, was off to a hot start at Tennessee, where he had gone .320/.438/.579 with 13 home runs and 39 RBI.
"We've been talking about it for a few weeks, about whether it makes sense to use him for interleague," Cubs president Theo Epstein said. "We had some player-development meetings before the draft, and we had an organizational consensus that he probably needed only a few more weeks in Double-A."
The Cubs drafted Schwarber with the fourth overall pick last year. He is a catcher out of Indiana University, and although many observers believe he won't remain a catcher, he's giving it a good go in the minors.
"I don't ever want to stop learning," he said. "I always want to be a student of the game. Whatever I'm trying to, I take it seriously. I want to get better at every aspect of the game."
Schwarber handled the media with aplomb in the Wrigley Field clubhouse, showing no signs of emotion or being overly amped.
"That was all last night," he said, referring to when he was told he was coming to Chicago. "I didn't sleep a bit. I was able to sleep on the plane. It was exciting. I'm here. I get to play. I get to get a little taste."
Schwarber has been determined to make it as a catcher. The Cubs seem impressed with his effort.
"I think he's exceeded our expectations to this point," Epstein said. "We're more convinced now than ever that he's going to catch and catch a long time in the big leagues."
For his short stay in the big leagues, the Cubs will get to see him with the bat.
"He belongs here and it's nice to have him around," veteran catcher David Ross said. "The numbers he was putting up in the minor leagues were crazy. I think we're a better team with him in our lineup."
To make room for Schwarber, the Cubs optioned relief pitcher Brian Schlitter to Iowa.
Walk on the wild side:
It was a rare rough start for Jake Arrieta against the Indians. He threw 112 pitches in 5 innings and walked six. Arrieta gave up 3 hits and 4 runs.
The Indians took a 3-0 lead in the third inning. Walks to Jason Kipnis and Michael Brantley preceded a 3-run homer by Carlos Santana. The Indians scored another in the fifth against Arrieta.
"The pitch count got up," Arrieta said. "Too many walks, obviously. That was the big negative."
In the ninth inning, lefty reliever Zac Rosscup left the game with what the Cubs said was stiffness in his shoulder.
Who do you spy?
Theo Epstein did not wish to address news that the FBI was investigating the St. Louis Cardinals for allegedly hacking into the Houston Astros' computer system. At risk for the Astros is proprietary information about players.
"I don't have a response to that," Epstein said. "We have a lot on our plate just with this organization. I'm not going to get into other organizations' business. Glad it wasn't us."
Asked to put a number on what manager Joe Maddon has meant to the Cubs, Theo Epstein cited some iconic pop culture.
"It's hard to quantify," Epstein said. "I guess Spinal Tap goes to 11. Joe definitely lives like that, so we'll go with 11 if you have to insist on a number."