Cubs' Maddon sees 'it all come together' for Schwarber
Chicago Cubs left fielder Kyle Schwarber entered Sunday night's game against the St. Louis Cardinals on a six-game hitting streak.
Manager Joe Maddon said he was impressed with Schwarber's at-bats in Saturday night's 9-4 victory, and not because of the home run he hit to cap an 11-pitch at-bat.
"(Saturday) was one day that I saw it all come together," Maddon said. "I know that he's had some nice moments already this year. I'm not talking about a homer. Just from a technical perspective, I really liked the way he looked yesterday.
"Riz (Anthony Rizzo) is always standing next to me. We were talking, and I said, 'Man, that looks good.' All of a sudden, the ball took off. He was so much more handsy yesterday and less full effort."
Schwarber went into Sunday with a line of .233/.338/.455 with 12 homers and 25 RBI. If there's any concern about Schwarber, it centers on his batting average. Teams shift against Schwarber, and that contributes somewhat to the average. It also can get players frustrated.
"They all do," Maddon said. "They're getting to the point now where they're over it, kind of. If you look at today's baseball world, part of not worrying about batting averages I think directly in some ways is related to the shift. Your average is going to shrink just based on that. How many groundballs did they hit up the middle that were in that hole that used to be hits? Both of these guys. Rizzo would be hitting .300, and Schwarber would be hitting at least .250 -- at least."
Schwarber has been the Cubs' primary leadoff hitter since May 16. Making him the leadoff hitter in 2017 did not go well, but Schwarber missed almost the entire 2016 regular season with a knee injury.
"This year I thought he was in a better place to do it as compared to a couple years ago, where at that time we thought it was the perfect time do it," Maddon said. "But it obviously didn't play as well. But for right now, he's a different major-league baseball player and different hitter."
Getting started in Arizona:
Newly signed closer Craig Kimbrel has left for the Cubs' facility in Mesa, Arizona, where he will go through a "condensed spring training" before beginning a stint at Class AAA Iowa, where he has been optioned.
Kimbrel threw a bullpen session Saturday at Wrigley Field. It's likely he'll throw one in Arizona before facing live hitters.
The Cubs have not set a date for his recall from Iowa.
Reliever on rehab assignment:
Relief pitcher Xavier Cedeno has begun an injury-rehab assignment at Iowa. Cedeno went on the injured list May 22 with left-wrist inflammation.
Cedeno suffered from a similar injury in spring training and was on the IL until May 11. He got into 5 games with the Cubs before going back on the IL.