Friday, June 22, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Cubs' Schwarber, slowed by injury, limited to pinch hitting for next three games

CHICAGO — The Legend of Kyle Schwarber will be limited this weekend.

The inspiring slugger did not receive hoped-for clearance from doctors on his surgically repaired left knee to expand his duties to playing in the field, so the Cubs can only use him as a pinch-hitter during the three World Series games played under NL rules.

Schwarber made an unexpected return to the Cubs for Tuesday's opening game after a faster-than-expected recovery from major April surgery to repair torn ligaments in his left knee. That he looked so good in doing so — going 3-for-7 with two walks and two RBIs as the DH in the two games in Cleveland despite missing six-plus months — led the Cubs to explore being able to have him in the lineup playing leftfield.

"We're all disappointed," baseball operations president Theo Epstein said. "We'd love to see Kyle out there getting four-plus at-bats a game.

"But I think it was important to talk to a medical professional, who's objective and detached from the situation. I think we're all wrapped up in seeing how well Kyle swung the bat and how it impacted us and the stage that we're on and our desire to win, that there is the possibility of us getting carried away and throwing caution to the wind."

The doctors' concern, Epstein said, was the increased risk because of "the instantaneous reactions" of playing the outfield."

Schwarber said he wasn't disappointed, but it sounded like he was.

"Deep down in my heart I really wanted to, but there's obviously the doubts of the injury," he said. "Not many people get this opportunity that I'm in right now, so I'm embracing this opportunity that I've got and I'm going to cheer my teammates on, and when my time comes, I'm going to be ready for that opportunity."

INDIANS NEW LOOK: Rather than lose one of the top bats in their lineup with no DH in play, the Indians are thinking seriously about playing occasional first baseman and former catcher Carlos Santana in leftfield, where he has all of four 2012 innings of experience.

"There's no reason not to — it's no big secret, we're trying to balance scoring more runs than them," manager Terry Francona said. "He's a big part of our offense. He's also never — played right field, I think, in 2012 — so there would be some concern there. … If we do decide to do it, you know, if he messes up a ball out there, you can blame me."

SPECIAL NIGHT: As if starting a Series game wasn't thrilling enough for Indians RHP Josh Tomlin, even better is that his father, Jerry, will be there despite a rare medical condition that left him paralyzed from the waist down.

Jerry Tomlin was released last week from a Dallas hospital after a rare condition called an arteriovenous malformation required emergency surgery and has left him confined to a wheelchair.

"He hasn't been to a game in quite a while, and it wasn't looking like he was going to get to come to a game at all," Tomlin said. "So to have him here and just to be able to see him is the thing I'm most looking forward to. But the fact that we get to experience the World Series together is pretty neat."

MISCELLANY: Cubs and former Rays manager Joe Maddon has friends from Tampa and family from Pennsylvania coming in, including his mom, Beanie. "She was holding out for the Series," he said. … The Cubs are starting RHP Kyle Hendricks, the NL ERA leader who dominated in Saturday's pennant-clincher. … Tickets for the Chicago games are averaging about $3,000 apiece on the secondary market. … The first two games of the World Series averaged 18.3 million viewers on Fox, up 27 percent from last year and the most since 2009. … Commissioner Rob Manfred plans to meet with Indians owner Paul Dolan after the World Series to discuss the team's use of the Chief Wahoo logo, which has stirred strong opinions for years.

Information from Times wires was used in this report.

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