Kyle Schwarber’s promotion as much about Cubs’ readiness as kid’s

SHARE Kyle Schwarber’s promotion as much about Cubs’ readiness as kid’s

On Kyle Schwarber’s first day in the major leagues, Cubs manager Joe Maddon lifted the Stanley Cup over his head in front of the Cubs’ dugout at Wrigley Field.

Not so fast, skip.

The six-day promotion of the Cubs’ slugging prospect isn’t going to suddenly vault the Cubs past the Cardinals or their IT department in the National League Central. But the message, at least, was not lost on those in the clubhouse.

“I think the message was sent even before I got here,” veteran catcher David Ross said.

An aggressiveness. A front-office push. A sense of seize-the-moment value in the 2015 season.

“We’re clearly in contention. We can’t take that for granted,” team president Theo Epstein said when asked about the team’s approach to the summer trading season. “So whether it’s a minor-league signing here or putting a prospect in a certain role there to help the big-league team, those are things that you do when you’re in contention and have a relevant season.”

Just wait till the July trading season starts.

Meanwhile, get a load of Kyle Schwarber, the lefty slugger added to the roster for a five-game run through American League ballparks, where the designated hitter will be in effect.

Schwarber, who was drafted out of Indiana University barely a year ago with the No. 4 overall pick in the draft, has clobbered Southern League pitching for 2 ½ months and is the best available bat the Cubs could add for the series in Cleveland and Minnesota, starting Wednesday.

“We think it’s a perfect pit stop for him on the way to AAA,” Epstein said of Schwarber, who finished his AA career Monday — batting .320 with 13 homers at Tennessee. “We think he can help us win some games in his brief stint up here.”

Schwarber made his debut in the ninth inning of Tuesday’s 6-0 loss to the Indians at Wrigley Field, replacing the ejected Miguel Montero behind the plate in the top of the inning and striking out on three pitches leading off the bottom of the inning.

“It can only go up from there,” Schwarber, 22, said with a smile – and encouraged by his ability to keep his nerves in check. “I was surprised I wasn’t as jacked up as I thought I’d be.”

The Cubs opened interleague play Tuesday in Detroit, and the front office considered calling up Schwarber then. But Epstein said they ultimately rejected the idea because they didn’t want Schwarber sitting much of the week after the two games in Detroit, especially with Montero available as the DH in one of those games.

Schwarber acknowledged hearing the reports of a possible callup.

“But I like to keep my head buried,” he said. “Once all those rumors were going around, I wasn’t really trying to pay attention to it because I could kind of sidetrack myself from what I was trying to do.

“It’s an honor to be here.”

He knows he’s going back to the minors after Sunday’s game, regardless of performance. Epstein left open the possibility he could return before rosters expand in September, depending on the team’s needs.

Whatever happens down the road, this callup on this day said as much about the front office’s view of this team as what Epstein called an “organization-wide love affair with the kid.”

It said as much about winning as anything.

Maybe it was a coincidence that the Blackhawks paraded their championship swagger and shiny, re-won trophy around the title-less ballpark on this day.

Regardless, the Cubs’ youthful core is here now.

“I think it’s a great sign,” Ross said.

NOTES: Left-hander Zac Rosscup left Tuesday’s game four batters into the ninth because of shoulder stiffness and is expected to be placed on the 15-day DL Wednesday. Right-hander Brian Schlitter, who was optioned to make room for Schwarber, would be eligible to return to the roster because of the injury.

–Maddon on lifting the 35-pound Cup before the game: “I know not everybody’s had that opportunity to do something like that. It was an honor they would present it for me to be able to do that. More than anything, I’m glad I was able to do it physically.”

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