Cubs have some powerful options with Schwarber, Soler in left
Know this about playing left field for the Chicago Cubs:
The position at Wrigley Field has been manned over the years by the likes of Dave Kingman, Glenallen Hill, Henry Rodriguez, Moises Alou and Alfonso Soriano.
Everybody survived, more or less.
So the Cubs are going about their left-field business this year without any visible signs of trepidation.
Kyle Schwarber, who came up as a catcher but who seems to be a man without a natural position, is No. 1 on the depth chart in left field for the Cubs this spring.
Say this about Schwarber: No matter where the Cubs put him, he works hard at it, even if the results aren't always pretty.
But with a bat like Schwarber's, the Cubs will find a place for him until the National League adopts the designated-hitter rule, something team president Theo Epstein would give his eye teeth to see happen.
The 6-foot, 235-pound Schwarber certainly is no ballet dancer in left, and a couple of misplayed balls against the New York Mets last fall in the NL championship series happened in a packed Wrigley Field and before a national TV audience.
Schwarber says he won't let that define him or his play in left field.
"Definitely not," he said during the opening days of spring training in Mesa, Arizona. "I felt comfortable out there the whole year. Bad plays happen. I'm definitely going to get better at that this coming year."
Such criticism comes with the territory, Schwarber added.
"People are always going to have their opinions," he said. "You can't let that opinion factor into how you feel. No one knows how the team feels about you. Everyone on the outside world thinks they have their own kind of perception of a player. They're not inside (the clubhouse). But I can't blame them. They probably have a good reason to do that because they saw it."
Right field is the sun field at Wrigley Field. The challenges in left field include a deep foul line of 355 feet and the curve -- or "well" -- in the wall at the start of left-center field.
The recent re-signing of center fielder Dexter Fowler threw left field into a bit of a jumble. Jason Heyward was going to play center until Fowler came back. Now, Heyward moves to his preferred position in right, displacing Jorge Soler, who now is listed as No. 2 on the depth chart behind Schwarber in left.
Schwarber bats left-handed and Soler right, so some sort of a platoon is not out of the question.
Last year Schwarber had a line of .246/.355/.487 with 16 homers and 43 RBI in 232 at-bats. Soler went .262/.324/.399 with 10 homers and 47 RBI in 366 at-bats.
Even with flaws in their games -- including a 30 percent strikeout rate for Soler and 28.2 for Schwarber -- both players possess enticing potential for even more power at the plate.