As DH arrives in NL, Schwarber says he's ready for any role with the Cubs
When Kyle Schwarber plays left field this season, he won't be able to acknowledge fans in the bleachers. He'll have to look all the way to the rooftop seating, which is supposed to be open at a limited capacity.
"I guess I'm going to have to launch some balls up to the rooftops and give them a good little shimmy dance out there," Schwarber told reporters during a teleconference Wednesday.
Does he mean try to throw some souvenirs up to the fans, or launch a home run onto a rooftop, something that's been done maybe once in the history of Wrigley Field by Glenallen Hill? Tune in and find out.
But there figure to be plenty of days when Schwarber is not in left field, since the designated hitter has finally come to the National League.
As a big hitter and below-average outfielder -- he was originally drafted as a catcher -- Schwarber seems to be a perfect fit for DH. But the Cubs have no shortage of DH candidates, including Victor Caratini, Ian Happ, David Bote, newcomer Steven Souza and others.
Schwarber said he's already spoken to first-year manager David Ross about his role, and is ready for anything.
"The conversations have been good, really good open communication about, 'Hey, you're going to play left some days and you're going to be DH'ing too,'" Schwarber said. "Trust me, I'm all for whatever he wants me to do. I'm just happy for the open communication he's had with me."
Some players struggle with the mental process of doing nothing but step to the plate four times over the course of a three-hour game. But Schwarber has a system that's worked for him and he's willing to consult other Cubs designated hitters.
"You think of a DH and you think about them taking their at bat, then the next thing they're going back down to the cage and they're swinging, swinging, swinging," he said. "That's not the case. I think the biggest thing for a DH is to be able to stay locked into the game as much as possible, know what's going on and see what's going on.
"If I take an at-bat off of watching Anthony Rizzo, Jason Heyward, similar lefties -- I might miss something that pitcher might try to do to me. So that's kind of the biggest thing here, be able to lock into the game. Get your swings in when you need them, stay loose, get on the bike before your at bat."
Ross shared his personal journey from DH opponent to proponent.
"I played in the National League for most of my career," he said. "You're really stubborn about messing with the style of game that you played every day and loved. So when I was a player, I definitely would have voted against the DH."
As a catcher calling pitches, Ross appreciated knowing a weaker-hitting pitcher might be stepping to the plate soon to end a rough inning. When he stopped playing, Ross learned to appreciate having a stronger bat take the place of a weak-hitting hurler.
"When you get a chance to play with a guy like (Boston's) David Ortiz and see what he brings to a lineup and the energy and the fans, it's a little more enjoyable to watch," Ross said.
"Now that I sit in the manager's seat, I get to try this out first and see how that goes and let Major League Baseball and the players union sort the rest out."
• Twitter: @McGrawDHBulls