Kyle Schwarber to sit against LHPs, works to get back on hitting horse

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LOS ANGELES — He stopped being the leadoff hitter a week ago.

Now Cubs left fielder Kyle Schwarber isn’t an everyday player, either, until further notice.

The lefty-hitting Schwarber, who’s a platoon player until he starts hitting better, was out of the lineup Friday against Dodgers left-hander Alex Wood. And he’s expected to sit Sunday against lefty Clayton Kershaw, too.

“I’m going to do that until I feel good about him, because I don’t want to lay too many at-bats on him in a negative situation,” manager Joe Maddon said.

“If he’s not swinging the bat well against righties, it’s a bad assumption that I’m going to think he’s going to swing it well against lefties.

“So I’m just trying to pick his spots right now to get him going. Once he goes, he can play against anybody.”

Schwarber, a two-time postseason hero who has yet to play a full regular season, struck out four times Thursday against the Giants.

He has a .181 batting average, with a team-leading 55 strikeouts, and he’s 5-for-34 (.147) with one home run and 15 strikeouts against left-handers.

Maddon has used series and matchups like this one to give a struggling player a mental break for at least a full series. He did the same thing with Jason Heyward last summer.

“I don’t think it’s there yet,” Maddon said. “I’ve had good conversation with him. I think it’s a different set of circumstances.”

Start me up?

Left-hander Mike Montgomery hasn’t been told when he’s starting, but he said he’s stretched out and ready.

Montgomery, who made five starts for the Cubs last year after being acquired in a trade from Seattle in July, earned a four-inning save Thursday.

He’s the first Cub in 20 years to earn a save with at least four scoreless innings (Kent Bottenfield at Philadelphia, July 4, 1997).

It also was his first career  regular-season save.

“It’s a little different than two pitches in Game 7,” he said of his only other save, in last year’s World Series. “I’ll take it.”

The Cubs have talked since last month about when to drop Montgomery into the rotation as a temporary sixth starter. But Maddon said no timeline has been determined for when he might start.

The Cubs can use another lefty in the bullpen as soon as possible to combat the Dodgers’ left-heavy lineup.

Montgomery said he felt good Friday and expected to be ready to pitch again by Saturday.

Maddon: “I’ll be open to conversation [Saturday].”

This and that

After a 5-for-48 skid, first baseman Anthony Rizzo went 12-for-31 (.387) with five homers, five walks and nine RBI during the Cubs’ 7-2 homestand.

• Entering play Friday night, the Cubs had 26 homers in their previous 14 games, second in the National League only to the Diamondbacks (30) in that span.

• Through Thursday, the Cubs gave up 45 first-inning earned runs in their first 46 games. That’s an 8.80 ERA. The starters have a 3.20 ERA from the second inning on.

Follow me on Twitter @GDubCub.



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