Struggling Kyle Schwarber (.179) still leading off, still ‘confident’

ST. LOUIS — Leadoff man Kyle Schwarber continues to struggle as the Cubs head home from a 2-4 road trip. But manager Joe Maddon still talked optimistically about the young lefty slugger.

‘‘I’ve seen a great swing and the ball fouled back,’’ Maddon said. ‘‘Like, straight back, meaning he’s just underneath the ball a little bit. It’s not like he’s slow or not on time; he is.’’

Schwarber has the lowest batting average (.179) among major-league leadoff hitters with at least 100 plate appearances, has one of the lowest on-base percentages (.313) and is hitless in his last 14 at-bats.

‘‘Obviously, it gets frustrating,’’ Schwarber said. ‘‘You feel like you put a good swing on the ball, and you’re just not getting the result. I’ve just got to keep going with the approach. I’m going to stay positive every day. I’m still going to be confident. I’m going to stay with my mindset.’’

Schwarber flies out to end the game Saturday.

Maddon said he doesn’t think the struggles are a carryover from Schwarber missing virtually all of last season with a knee injury or from too-high expectations coming off a celebrated World Series performance.

‘‘Everybody’s expecting the world out of him right now out of the chute,’’ Maddon said. ‘‘I can’t tell you that he’s pressing; I don’t know that. Talking to him, he seems to be fine. He’s grinding through a tough moment, but he’s really good, and I know it’s going to level out in our favor.’’

Heyward return delayed

Maddon said right fielder Jason Heyward (jammed right index finger) likely won’t be ready to return from the disabled list Tuesday, as originally expected. Heyward is improving but has lingering discomfort in the finger while swinging the bat.

This and that

The Cubs are using their day off Monday to keep left-hander Jon Lester on his regular schedule, which means his next start will be Thursday against the Reds.

Right-hander Eddie Butler, who made an impressive debut with the Cubs on Friday, will be pushed back to Saturday against the Brewers.

• Shortstop Addison Russell (shoulder) returned to the lineup after missing three games and went 1-for-4.

• Second baseman Ben Zobrist (back) and third baseman Kris Bryant (illness) were out of the lineup again but were available off the bench.

Follow me on Twitter @GDubCub.

Email: gwittenmyer@suntimes.com

 

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