DETROIT – About the time Miguel Montero grounded out in the fourth inning as the Cubs’ designated hitter in Tuesday’s game against the Detroit Tigers, slugging prospect Kyle Schwarber connected on a two-run homer as the DH for AA Tennessee.
Not that Birmingham’s Tony Bucciferro is going to be confused for Tigers pitcher Anibal Sanchez anytime soon. Or that Schwarber would do much at all against Sanchez, who’s been stifling to most lefties this year.
But it was at least a vision of sugarplums for anyone (manager Joe Maddon?) hoping the Cubs might think big and try to create a more American League look to their lineup with a temporary callup of last year’s No. 4 overall draft pick for a two-week stretch that includes seven DH games.
Especially coming off recent competitive series against contenders Kansas City and Washington that had the Cubs looking enough like factors in the National League that the front office has taken an early attitude of buyers this summer — including the signing Tuesday of free agent closer Rafael Soriano.
“We discussed different possibilities,” Maddon said of his conversation Sunday night with team president Theo Epstein about roster scenarios that might be used to take advantage of the DH in upcoming games against Detroit, Cleveland and Minnesota.
“It would require a lot of manipulation in order to have that done right now. I’m good with the lineup as it sits right now.”
Not that he has much choice. Sources say Cubs brass talked about adding Schwarber to the 40-man roster for brief taste – even having him in the lineup as a DH three straight games for the first time – before rejecting the idea. Schwarber, for instance, has so far to go as a catcher defensively that his only feasible big-league position for even an inning would be DH.
“I think the kid’s going to be a real good major league baseball player,” Maddon said. “I do. But I also like the guys that are here.”
On this day he had David Ross catching Jon Lester, and his only other catcher (Montero) DH’ing – a risk Maddon shrugged off as one he takes often in NL games the way he uses the roster.
Of course, one guy with the team on this trip is Manny Ramirez, the hitting consultant, who offered to fill the DH spot if the Cubs wanted. “They don’t know what they’re missing,” he said.