Schwindel hoping to finally catch a break with Cubs
The last time the Cubs were this bad, they had a first baseman who represented hope for the future, and delivered.
Is Frank Schwindel the team's version of Anthony Rizzo?
Well, no. Rizzo was 22 during the miserable 2012 season. Schwindel is 29. Like Rizzo, Schwindel played for multiple teams before joining the Cubs, but his path has been much more of a grind.
"Obviously, no one can replace him," Schwindel said of Rizzo. "He's an unbelievable player -- Gold Glove, All-Star. He's one of the most liked guys in the city. I wouldn't say I'm necessarily replacing him by any means, but I'm here and they're putting me in the lineup so I'm going to do the best I can and hopefully the fans like me even half as much as him someday."
Schwindel was called up from Iowa after Rizzo was traded to the Yankees and so far, the Livingston, New Jersey, native has made the most of the opportunity. In his first 14 games with the Cubs, Schwindel is hitting .370 with 4 home runs and 13 RBIs.
On Saturday in Miami, he delivered a 3-run double in the eighth inning that temporarily put the Cubs ahead. On Sunday, he homered to tie the game 1-1.
The Cubs eventually lost 4-1 to run their losing streak to 11. This stretch has been painful to watch, but a pleasure for Schwindel to be an everyday player in the majors.
"This is awesome," he said. "Playing first base for the Chicago Cubs, can't beat it. Obviously, we've been scuffling here a little bit, but I think we've got a lot of talent in the locker room and nobody's really down. We're just going to show up and give our best every day and see what happens."
Schwindel isn't even one of the players acquired in the flurry of trades before the deadline. The Cubs claimed him off waivers from Oakland on July 18.
There have been some devastating highs and lows for Schwindel the past few years. He was an Opening Day starter for Kansas City in 2019, but after playing in just six games, he was sent down and released.
He got another chance with Oakland this season and hit his first major league home run in his first game with the A's on June 30. This time, he played in eight games and was designated for assignment.
"Definitely not easy. You feel like on top of the world and then the world's all the way against you," Schwindel said. "But obviously that's baseball, it's one of the hardest games you can do, getting out most of the time. I cherish those moments being an Opening Day starter for Kansas City and homering in my first game with Oakland, obviously those are moments nobody can take from me and it makes all that hard work worth it.
"But going coming here and getting the opportunity to play every day, just trying to make the most of it. But moments like that make it all worth it. Getting to put on a Cubs uniform in the big leagues and playing with these guys, there's no better feeling."
Schwindel was an 18th round pick out of St. John's in 2013. He put up good numbers in Triple A, hitting 24 home runs in 2018, and was hitting .317 in Las Vegas before getting called up to Oakland.
"He's making good contact," Cubs manager David Ross said. "He's got a real knack for taking the barrel of the bat to the baseball."
On Sunday, Alec Mills (5-5) delivered another good start, but gave up the go-ahead run in the sixth inning. The Marlins made it 4-1 in the seventh when Jesus Aguilar hit a 2-run homer off Jake Jewell. Cubs hitters went 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position.
Before the game, Jason Heyward (finger) was activated from the injured list, while Greg Deichmann was sent down to Iowa.
The good news is the Cubs gained three games on Miami in their quest for a higher 2022 draft pick. Both teams are now 16 games below .500.