Not much ado in Schwarber's return to leadoff spot

  • Cubs left fielder Kyle Schwarber hits a solo home run off Reds relief pitcher David Hernandez in the eighth inning Wednesday in Cincinnati.

    Cubs left fielder Kyle Schwarber hits a solo home run off Reds relief pitcher David Hernandez in the eighth inning Wednesday in Cincinnati. Associated Press

Updated 5/20/2019 7:51 PM

Remember the hubbub when Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon made Kyle Schwarber the leadoff hitter a couple of years ago?

Don't look now, but Schwarber started his fifth game as leadoff hitter Monday night as the Cubs opened a four-game series against the Philadelphia Phillies at Wrigley Field.


Schwarber sounded glad there's no fuss this time.

"Ha-ha, yeah, I guess," he said. "I'm just going up there having competitive at-bats and not changing my mindset at all. I'm not going up there trying to walk. I'm just going up there trying to have the same at-bats as if I was in the 5-6-7 hole and go from there."

Schwarber struggled as a leadoff hitter in 2017, batting .190 and getting sent to Class AAA Iowa for 11 games. He said he doesn't change his approach batting first.

"I think for me, I want to be selective and aggressive at the same time," he said. "I think that walks just come. It's just a product of the approach at the plate. I'm not going to try to give in to their pitches. I'm going to try to get mine early. I think that's a solid approach."

Letting the heel heal:

Shortstop Javier Baez did not start Monday after leaving Sunday's game at Washington with a right-heel bruise.

"Not bad," said manager Joe Maddon. "I saw him in there on the bike, biking away. He's just sore. We'll just play it out.

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"I had already built in a day off this week for him, but it may be altered now based on the fact that he's not playing today. I think he's going to be fine."

Bullpen injury report:

Cubs president Theo Epstein said injured closer Brandon Morrow threw for the first time Monday after being shut down a couple weeks ago as he continues rehabbing from last fall's elbow cleanup.

Epstein said Morrow threw from 45-60 feet in Arizona and the he would continue on a "normal throwing progression." There is no timetable for Morrow's return. He has not pitched for the Cubs since before last year's all-star break.

Morrow's replacement, Pedro Strop, threw 25 pitches in the bullpen Monday, according to Epstein. It's likely Strop will throw another bullpen session later this week. He has been on the injured list since May 7 with a left-hamstring strain.


Prospect suffers setback:

Shortstop Nico Hoerner, last year's first-round draft pick, will be out for at least another month with a hairline fracture of the left wrist. Hoerner opened the season at Class AA Tennessee.

He was injured earlier this season and tried to begin a hitting progression, said Theo Epstein, who added it "didn't go great after a couple days."

A CT scan revealed the small fracture where the forearm meets the hand. Hoerner will wear a splint for three weeks, and the Cubs will evaluate him from there.


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