Schwarber: ‘No Regrets About Playing Hard and Getting Hurt’
In the wake of bad news, it’s human nature to want to seek answers or perhaps find a convenient totem onto which to project our inevitable anger and sadness. Some felt the need to point the finger of blame after seeing Kyle Schwarber laid low by a scary-looking collision in last night’s Cubs/D-backs game. Whether it was at Dexter Fowler for not taking charge of the situation, Schwarber for not understanding outfield priority protocol, or Joe Maddon for having the audacity to put a converted catcher in left, lots of people were mad online.
Listen, I don’t want to tell you how to fan or how to human, but I take issue with the desire to lay accusations at the feet of anyone in particular or to act as though this was some kind of once-in-a-lifetime occurrence. Baseball players have collided before and I’d be willing to put good money on the fact that they will again. It was a freak play that resulted in an injury to a beloved player, but I doubt determining who’s at fault will help War Bear heal up any quicker.
Contrary to the nature of the pissing matches I’ve gotten myself into — gotta harden those hands for all the baseball Twittering — over the past 12 hours, though, most fans aren’t getting too worked up.
Who's to blame for the Schwarber/Fowler collision?
— Evan Altman (@DEvanAltman) April 8, 2016
I don’t know what, if anything, was said out in left-center, but I do know that it’s entirely possible both men were simply focused on trying to make the play. It’s also possible that a call went unheard or unheeded. Running headlong to make a play on a ball in the gap is not necessarily the most conducive environment to open and easy communication.
“The ball was literally in no man’s land,” Schwarber said after the game. “We both thought that (the other) wasn’t going to get the ball. So you only call it if you know you can get it [emphasis mine]. We both went at it, and I stuck my glove up. I was pretty close. But then he dove for it, too.
“We were playing hard. I have no regrets about playing hard and getting hurt.
“I’m not going to be down in spirit,” War Bear continued. “I’m going to just wait until tomorrow and see what happens.
“I’m a big body to be running into. I was just more worried about how Dexter was doing because I hit him pretty well.”
While the injury appeared as though it could have been catastrophic, initial reports from the Cubs were that X-rays were negative and that it was just a sprain. The big slugger did say that his left knee and ankle felt tight after the game and he’s having an MRI on both, so fingers are still crossed in that regard. It’s not often you can say that an ankle sprain is good news, but after witnessing the collision, that’s exactly what said diagnosis would be.
We’re told we won’t have results from the MRI until later in the day, but Buster Olney did little to take away from the gloom currently hanging over the Midwest.
A lot of concern within the Cubs organization today about Kyle Schwarber's injury, and there is more concern about his knee than his ankle.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) April 8, 2016
“[The play] had bad things written all over it,” Maddon echoed. “The guy hits the ball in the one spot that we can’t cover.”
While the ball might have been in a place the Cubs couldn’t cover, Schwarber’s spot in the lineup is not quite as worrisome. I mean, you don’t want to have his bat out of the order for any significant period of time, but this roster is built in such a way that it can absorb quite a bit of damage before being critically wounded. Olney pointed out that the Cubs are far more potent with Schwarber, but that’s a bit of a strawman.
Last year’s team featured neither Jason Heyward nor Ben Zobrist, not to mention that Kris Bryant, Addison Russell and Anthony Rizzo had yet to truly reach their prime. You’re also talking about a pretty small sample size, relatively speaking. But since we’ve already started off down the SSS rabbit trail, let’s look at what the offense has done sans War Bear thus far this season. They scored 6 runs on Tuesday night in Anaheim and blast the D-backs for a dozen scores after losing Schwarber.
Matt Szczur came on as a defensive replacement in the season opener, then started in left and smashed a solo homer on Tuesday. Kris Bryant moved out to LF in the 2nd inning Thursday night and there’s this Jorge Soler guy hanging around too. Oh, then you’ve got Javier Baez, who could potentially man a corner spot in a pinch once he returns from his own injury.
The hope is that Schwarber only misses a month or so, but the Cubs are uniquely equipped to cover up for his loss no matter the length of his trip to the DL. I’m not saying that the loss doesn’t hurt, just that the redundancy and overall potency of this roster allows Maddon to move guys around in such a way that it’s not going to leave a gaping hole in the heart of the order. And consider that Schwarber was batting 6th, which is not a testament to his own skill but to the strength of those batting around him.
So if you want to blame anything, blame the unlikely confluence of several streams of bad luck. Take a cue from War Bear and don’t get down in spirit. Just wait until tomorrow and see what happens. Then wait until the next tomorrow and the next and so on. If all goes well, we’ll only have six weeks of tomorrows to sit through.