Back in April, when Kyle Schwarber was being removed from Chase Field on the back of a golf cart with two torn knee ligaments, no one could have predicted he’d be on the cusp of making a downright shocking return six months later.
Yet on Saturday, while his teammates were clinching a historic pennant, the 23-year-old was playing in the Arizona Fall League with an eye on coming back in the World Series. On Monday night, reports circulated that Schwarber will be on the Cubs’ World Series roster and be the team’s designated hitter in Game 1 at Cleveland on Tuesday.
Assuming he does make the Cubs’ roster, it would be one of the biggest and most shocking comebacks in World Series history. The only people who might not be all that shocked are, quite likely, his teammates.
“We’ve seen first-hand the work that he’s putting in and how hard he’s been going,” third baseman Kris Bryant told Patrick Mooney of CSN Chicago. “Honestly, I saw him out – maybe a couple weeks after his surgery – and he’s moving around, walking. And I’m like: ‘Dang, this guy’s not human. How? I saw your leg bend in half, and you’re walking around. This is unbelievable.'”
During the Cubs’ run to the NLCS last season, Schwarber – then a relatively untested rookie – became a hero in Chicago and a national sensation with a monster October that saw him become the team’s all-time postseason home run leader. While his knee will limit him to DH duties in Cleveland and pinch-hit opportunities at Wrigley Field in this series, his impact will be noticeable; Wrigley will undoubtedly start shaking from 40,000 screaming Cubs fans if he gets a chance to bat in the series’ middle games.
“You see when he gets introduced how much everybody loves him,” pitcher Jake Arrieta said. “He’s a legend already at such a young age. That’s awesome. It just speaks to the importance of what he was able to do last year for us.”
What Schwarber is trying to do has almost zero precedent, and it's also risky given the nature of his injury. His teammates have absolutely no doubt he'll excel once he gets into the lineup despite the fact that he can't run and hasn't faced big-league caliber pitching in six months. In their minds, that's what makes him such a special player.
“I feel like he’s in the best shape of his life (now),” Bryant said. “There was no doubt in my mind that he could do it. It was just a matter of if they let him.”
Copyright © 2016 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license.