MESA, Ariz. — Kyle Schwarber, the third catcher on the Cubs roster, got most of his game work behind the plate last summer with Jason Hammel pitching, and he was paired with the right-hander again Thursday in a 15-4 exhibition win against the Diamondbacks.
Get used to it.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon suggested Schwarber could become essentially Hammel’s personal catcher this year as he looks for spots to start him behind the plate. Some of those decisions on Hammel’s day might “depend on the other team’s pitcher” and starter Miguel Montero’s schedule.
But Maddon likes the Schwammel battery.
“They seem to work well together,” said Maddon, who said he’s less likely to pair Schwarber with Kyle Hendricks as he did for several starts last year.
Hammel, who gave up one run — his first of the spring — in four innings, striking out six, said: “We’re on the same page right now. I think it carried over from last year.”
Hammel calls Schwarber “a student of the game” and said he appreciates adjustments Schwarber has made during the offseason and early in camp with his game-calling.
“You’ve also seen him stick his leg out, getting him a little lower with his target than he was last year,” Hammel said. “It only helps a guy like me, with tall leverage, where I need that little extra sightline down to help drive the ball down.
“It’s a way to get big bats in the lineup, too,” Hammel added. “If that’s the way it ends up playing out, I welcome it 100 percent.”