Kyle Schwarber forced to deal with a lot of shifts

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Chicago Cubs’ Kyle Schwarber watches his two-run single off Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Scott Feldman during the second inning of a baseball game Wednesday, May 17, 2017, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast) ORG XMIT: CXC108

Teams are employing shifts more frequently against pull hitters, but adjusting to them isn’t as easy as it might appear for young hitters.

‘‘That’s the kind of stuff that’s done in the minor leagues,’’ manager Joe Maddon said of learning to hit to opposite fields. ‘‘You have two choices—you continue to do what you do or work on using the off field. Eventually the hitter might try on his own to do it, but then you might see a loss of the power you had.’’

Left fielder Kyle Schwarber, the power-hitting left-hander, has seen most teams shift when he hits.

Seeing shifts can affect a hitter’s approach because ‘‘the field you’ve seen since you were 11 looks different,’’ Maddon said. ‘‘It’s hard to evaluate the effect it has on you as a hitter, but I know it bothers you.’’

Schwarber, who has struggled as a leadoff hitter, batted second Sunday, with Ben Zobrist moving up to the leadoff spot.

Schwarber went 1-for-3 with a RBI single, a grounder to the right-field grass where second baseman Jonathan Villar but Schwarber beat the throw.

Maddon said the lineup shuffle was as much about how well rookie Ian Happ has been playing, allowing him to bat behind Anthony Rizzo as lineup protection.

Happ batted fifth behind Rizzo and doubled home a run in his first at-bat.

Weather, or not

The Brewers were upset about the postponement Saturday, disputing the Cubs’ contention that the rain was going to last all day.

Brewers general manager David Stearns said the Cubs should have waited to call off the game, since the rain stopped by noon, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. Stearns said the Brewers had a different forecast and that he ‘‘talked to the Cubs to express his displeasure.’’

‘‘It’s the first time our players were treated for sunburn after a rainout,’’ Brewers manager Craig Counsell said.

The game was rescheduled for July 6.

What’s new

The Brewers were a sub-.500 team last season but are among this season’s surprises.

What has changed?

‘‘Pitching,’’ Maddon said. ‘‘I thought their bullpen was getting better last year and it has some really good arms now. And any time a team really gets better, for me it’s based on starting pitching. And then getting a performance that I’m sure is somewhat unexpected from a guy who is playing as well as [Eric] Thames.’’

Thames is among the league’s home-run leaders after spending the last three years playing in Korea.

Roster moves

As expected, Jason Heyward returned from the disabled list Sunday and was in right field batting sixth.

The Cubs optioned infielder Tommy La Stella and pitcher Pierce Johnson to Class AAA Iowa. The team recalled right-handed pitcher Dylan Floro from Iowa for bullpen duty in his second promotion this month. Floro pitched the final two innings Sunday, giving up five runs in the ninth.

Follow me on Twitter @toniginnetti.


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