CLEVELAND – One of these years Kyle Schwarber is going to play an actual regular season in the big leagues.
Until then, the Cubs will gladly take one more epic set of postseason games from the young lefty slugger, who was officially added to their World Series roster Tuesday after playing just two minor-league games since a knee injury allegedly ended his season in April.
“It’s exciting to have him back,” shortstop Addison Russell said Monday – even before Schwarber doubled in three at-bats, sliding into second base, during an Arizona Fall League game.
“It’s as big bat we’ve missed all year, but maybe he’ll be able to display some of the stuff he would have displayed in the season in the World Series.”
Schwarber, who spent 6½ months on the disabled list after tearing his left ACL in an outfield collision with Dexter Fowler, was scheduled to fly to Cleveland to join the team Monday night.
Team officials confirmedthe decision to activate him as their designated hitter for the series Tuesday morning and he is expected be in Tuesday’s lineup against right-hander Corey Kluber. Pitcher Rob Zastryzny was dropped from the roster to make room for Schwarber.
“He’s a legend already at such a young age,” teammate Jake Arrieta said of Schwarber. “It’s awesome. It just speaks to the importance of what he was able to do for us last year.”
Schwarber set a franchise record with five postseason home runs last year after making his big-league debut in June.
Last week, he was medically cleared by his Dallas-based surgeon to run the bases and bat, far ahead of schedule, and activated from the 60-day DL to play in an AFL game Saturday.
He has not been cleared to play in the field. Four of the possible seven World Series games are scheduled for Cleveland, with the DH rule in effect.
As a left-handed hitter, Schwarber is especially attractive to the Cubs as a matchup against the Indians’ heavily right-leaning pitching staff, although nobody has any idea how quickly he can catch up to big-league pitching again after such a long layoff.
“There’s something about playing on a stage like this where the adrenaline takes over, your focus is a lot more sharp,” teammate Kris Bryant said. “And we all know what he can do out there. We saw what he can do in the playoffs last year.”