Kyle Schwarber looks like a new man after dropping more than 20 pounds during the offseason. But in the Chicago Cubs season-opening 8-4 win against the Miami Marlins, he was still the same Kyle Schwarber we’re used to seeing on the baseball field.
That meant a day of highs and lows, with the highs predictably happening at the plate, and the lows not surprisingly happening in the field.
The rough portion of Schwarber’s afternoon came early. In the third inning, he misplayed a Derek Dietrich fly ball that many left fielders would have handled, into a leadoff triple. That opened the door to a Marlins three-run rally against Jon Lester, which would prove to be Miami’s most productive offensive inning of the game.
Later in the same inning, Schwarber’s poor defense would strike again. This time he overran a single by Brian Anderson, allowing Miami’s third run to score and Anderson to reach third base. Schwarber would be charged with an error on this play, which spared Lester’s ERA slightly.
Both Schwarber and the Cubs hope his new toned physique will help him navigate the outfield a little better. Unfortunately, Thursday was a continuation of the awkwardness that in 2016 lead to a regular season-ending knee injury, and has defined the former catcher’s shift to the outfield. The fact that Schwarber’s moving around a lot better though should help in the long run. What we probably really learned here is that experience is still the key ingredient he’s missing, and that baseball is often unforgiving during that process.
Of course, it wouldn’t take long for Schwarber to make amends for his misplays. In the seventh inning, he mashed a solo home run that padded the Cubs lead.
Schwarber’s power is the reason the Cubs are willing to sacrifice defense to keep his bat in the lineup. Like his outfield plays, Schwarber’s not the polished hitter yet that the Cubs hope he will be, but his power is as legit as anyone else’s in Major League Baseball.
The truth is, we’re probably in for many more days just like this one for Kyle Schwarber. But the hope is that with each mistake will come a little more experience and ultimately the results the Cubs have longed for.
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More MLB opening day coverage from Yahoo Sports:
• MLB’s hottest free agent this spring? Marlins Man
• The Marlins waste no time in becoming MLB’s big joke
• Cubs star calls critics of Parkland students ‘losers’
• Yahoo Sports’ MLB predictions for 2018