Schwarber at DH, batting fifth for Cubs in Game 1 of World Series

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Kyle Schwarber hit five home runs in the 2015 postseason. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

CLEVELAND — Kyle Schwarber is in the Cubs starting lineup for Game 1 of the World Series. What’s more, the left-handed hitting slugger will bat fifth against Indians ace Corey Kluber.

Schwarber, who spent 6½ months on the disabled list after tearing his left ACL in an outfield collision with Dexter Fowler, joined the team Monday night after getting a short tuneup in the Arizona Fall League. Manager Joe Maddon will use him, as expected, as the designated hitter.

Schwarber said he first thought being ready for the World Series might happen “about six days ago.”

“I would say it probably hasn’t hit me,” Schwarber said. “Probably once I hit that line a lot of emotions will come pouring out and I’ll probably cry at some point today. It was a long road. But once we step between those lines I’ll be locked in. I’ll be ready to go.”

Left-hander Rob Zastryzny was left off the roster to make room for Schwarber.

Games 1 and 2 of the World Series, and 6 and 7 (if necessary) are in Cleveland. The DH is used when the American League entry is the home team. The DH won’t be used when the Cubs play Games 3, 4 and 5 (if necessary) at Wrigley Field this weekend.

Schwarber will likely be used as a pinch-hitter in Chicago, although Maddon wasn’t ruling out the possibility of Schwarber playing in the field. With five homers as a rookie in the 2015 postseason, Schwarber is the Cubs’ postseason home run leader. His first career start came against the Indians at Progressive Field last June, and he went 4-for-5. Schwarber was born in Middleton, Ohio.

“I’m a baseball rat,” Schwarber said. “I want to be involved in as much as I can. A lot of thanks go to this team and the organization for allowing me to be around. They were the rock in my rehab. I’m here today mostly because of those guys.”

Timing could be the most pressing issue for Schwarber. Players generally need a couple of weeks or more of games during spring training to be ready for Opening Day. When they go on the disabled list, rehab assignments in the minor leagues of two or more games are customary for the purpose of getting their timing back.

“In Arizona I tracked probably 1,300 pitches off a pitching machine,” Schwarber said. “That’s as much as we could get it to a live game besides playing in the fall league for two games and facing live pitchers. I tried setting it to the nastiest setting I could to get a really sharp break and train my eyes all over again.”

Also of note: Jason Heyward is not in the lineup. He is being replaced by left-handed hitting Chris Coghlan in right field. Heyward did not start in the Cubs’ Game 6 clincher against the Dodgers in the NLCS.

Here is the Cubs lineup:

Dexter Fowler CF

Kris Bryant 3B

Anthony Rizzo 1B

Ben Zobrist LF

Kyle Schwarber DH

Javy Baez 2B

Chris Coghlan RF

Addison Russell SS

David Ross C

(Jon Lester P)

Here is the Indians lineup:

Rajai Davis CF

Jason Kipnis 2B

Franciscor Lindor SS

Mike Napoli 1B

Carlos Santana DH

Jose Ramirez 3B

Brandon Guyer LF

Lonnie Chisenhall RF

Carlos Perez C

Kluber P

Schwarber talked in the interview room about four hours before the first pitch.

“Pedro Strop said it all along, you’re going to be back for the World Series. But the process was a long one. At first I didn’t think I would ever have a normal knee again.”

<em>Kyle Schwarber returns to the visitors clubhouse at Progressive Field after talking to media Tuesday. (Daryl Van Schouwen)</em>

Kyle Schwarber returns to the visitors clubhouse at Progressive Field after talking to media Tuesday. (Daryl Van Schouwen)

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