Watch list: 5 Cubs to keep an eye on during shortened season

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • The Chicago Cubs' Kyle Schwarber is likely to be used frequently at designated hitter this season since the DH is in play for every major league team. Schwarber has 98 career plate appearances as a DH and has fared very well, batting .299 with 9 home runs, 20 RBI and a 1.046 OPS.

    The Chicago Cubs' Kyle Schwarber is likely to be used frequently at designated hitter this season since the DH is in play for every major league team. Schwarber has 98 career plate appearances as a DH and has fared very well, batting .299 with 9 home runs, 20 RBI and a 1.046 OPS. AP File Photo

 
 
Updated 6/28/2020 8:13 AM

Baseball will be back at Wrigley Field on Wednesday, when the Cubs report for another spring training and hopefully move into the abbreviated regular season healthy and happy.

It's wait and see on the medical front. All major league players returning back to camp this week are going to be tested for coronavirus.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

If the Cubs are good to go, they'll have to shake off the rust acquired from three-plus months without organized activity and forge into a 60-game schedule against teams from the NL and AL Central.

There are so many unknowns moving forward, but one thing is pretty certain.

"It's just going to be good to have baseball back, man," White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said. "It's just going to be good to be back playing."

Agreed.

When the Cubs resume playing, here are five names to keep tabs on:

Kyle Schwarber

The past few years, Schwarber has heard his name come up in one trade rumor after another.

"It's happened to me so many different times," Schwarber said. "I've been in a lot of different things."

Trade talk usually had Schwarber being moved to an American League team due to his shortcomings in left field.

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Schwarber has worked hard on his defense, and his 25 assists over the last three seasons lead the NL.

New manager David Ross is sure to play Schwarber in the outfield this year, but he can also use him at designated hitter.

For this year, and possibly longer, the DH is in play for every major league team. Schwarber is a natural candidate to frequently fill the role for the Cubs. He has 98 career plate appearances as a DH and has fared very well, batting .299 with 9 home runs, 20 RBI and a 1.046 OPS.

Craig Kimbrel

The decorated closer missed the first three months of last season while waiting for an acceptable contract offer.

Kimbrel finally got one, from the Cubs, and he agreed to a three-year, $43 million deal.

The layoff hurt the 32-year-old Kimbrel, a seven-time all-star. In addition to posting a 6.53 ERA and giving up 9 home runs in only 20⅔ innings for the Cubs, the right-hander was slowed by knee and elbow injuries.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Jason Kipnis

He's anxious to play for the team he grew up rooting for after nine mostly productive seasons with the Indians.

Kipnis, a Northbrook native, is in the Cubs' mix at second base. He only played 4 regular season games on the North Side when he was with Cleveland, but Kipnis hit a 3-run homer at Wrigley in Game 4 of the 2016 World Series.

Jon Lester

Enjoy him while he lasts, Cubs fans.

Lester is in the final season of a six-year, $155 million contract. The 36-year-old lefty helped the Cubs begin a run of four straight playoff appearances in 2015 and he's earned the big money.

The Cubs hold a $25 million option on Lester for 2021. They won't pick that up, so this season is it for Lester unless he returns on a reduced deal.

Nico Hoerner

The Cubs are loaded with veteran players, but they are looking to gradually transition to a younger, cheaper roster.

Hoerner is their top young talent, but he still needs to develop after making the jump from Class AA Tennessee to the Cubs last September.

Fortunately, Hoerner is a versatile player and Ross can get him playing time at second base, shortstop and center field.

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