Cubs’ Schwarber has no illusions about major role as catcher

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Kyle Schwarber

MESA, Ariz. — Kyle Schwarber wants to make one thing clear about this whole catching thing: He’s planning to be an emergency third catcher, not fill any role bigger than that.

“With the National League-style ballgame and how we always preach versatility, it’s just a good way to make sure you’re always ready for something,” he said. “You know how [manager] Joe [Maddon] likes to move some pieces around during a game. I’ve got to be ready any time to come out from left and go back to catcher and give our two guys a blow one day. It’s going to be a limited role, obviously.”

Speculation about Schwar-ber’s catching role has included some inflated expectations as he comes to camp at full strength after reconstructive knee surgery last April and some postseason heroics. Team officials consider him a left fielder, possible leadoff hitter and occasional — very occasional — catcher. His first bullpen session Friday was brief, and the plan this spring calls for catching work only once or twice a week.

Schwarber drew attention Friday when he caught Tony Pena-style, with his surgically repaired left leg extended — the way he plans to catch when he gets in a game this year.

“Everyone thinks it’s a new style, but I did it last spring training, with my left knee down and right leg out,” he said. “So I’m just switching it to my right knee down, left leg out, just for the knee purposes. That’ll be my stance when nobody’s on base. And when somebody does get on base, I get back to a crouch.”

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