Kyle Schwarber (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Cubs send struggling Kyle Schwarber to Class AAA Iowa

SHARE Cubs send struggling Kyle Schwarber to Class AAA Iowa
SHARE Cubs send struggling Kyle Schwarber to Class AAA Iowa

MIAMI — Kyle Schwarber, who started the season as the Cubs’ leadoff hitter but has struggled with a .171 batting average, has been sent to Class AAA Iowa.

The Cubs also put outfielder Jason Heyward, who injured his left hand Sunday in Pittsburgh, on the 10-day disabled list before their game Thursday night in Miami against the Marlins.

Schwarber, a two-time postseason hitting hero for the Cubs, has just one hit in his last 14 at-bats. His on-base percentage is just .295 and he has 75 strikeouts in 222 at-bats. He went 0-for-3 Wednesday in a loss against the Padres, hitting in the No. 3 spot.

“At some point you have to be pragmatic. You have to do what’s best for everybody,” manager Joe Maddon said. “We’re doing it to hopefully reset him. Get him back up with a fresh start. As you’d expect he was very professional about it, understood it entirely.

“We’ll give him a couple of days and then he’s going to Iowa to start it back up again. There’s no actual timetable. I don’t anticipate it’s going to be long, but we’ll see how it plays out. We’ll give him a little bit of room to get things right and then go forward from there.”

Pitcher Dylan Floro and outfielder Mark Zagunis have been promoted from Class AAA Iowa to take Schwarber and Heyward’s spots on the roster. Zagunis was in the lineup, batting ninth and playing right field in his major league debut.

Zagunis, making his first trip to the majors, is hitting .249 with 11 home runs and 35 RBI at Iowa.Floro has a 3.48 ERA in 18 appearances with Iowa and has pitched in two games for the Cubs.

Schwarber left the Cubs’ game Monday against the San Diego Padres after fouling a ball off his left ankle. X-rays were negative.

Some of Schwarber’s teammates spoke to reporters before Thursday’s game.

“He’s going to go down and be able to exhale a little bit as far as being in the limelight all of the time,” first basemen Anthony Rizzo said. “Hopefully he can smooth things out. We’re all confident he will and just do his best down there to get back up here and be the Kyle Schwarber we all know and love, baseball player-wise.”

Third basement Kris Bryant agreed it’s a loss for the team but understands what Schwarber is going through.

“If I go 0-for-4, [and] that’s my biggest problem of the day, I’m doing just fine,” Bryant said. “And I think he has that great attitude about himself and that’s going to carry him a long way.

“It stinks,” Bryant added. “He’s a nice presence in the clubhouse, a nice presence in the lineup. He’s definitely one of the best players in our whole organization so I think he’ll be back real soon.”

Just last week, New York Mets outfielder Michael Conforto discussed his demotion last season, telling the Sun-Times how much it helped turn him around.

‘‘Had it been my decision, I would have wanted to stay with the big-league club and figure it out at the big-league level,’’ Conforto said. ‘‘But [by going down], you gain some confidence back. You see some hits fall in, feel the barrel of the bat a little bit. So I think it was valuable for me.

‘‘Looking back, I wouldn’t change anything about the way everything went down. It ended up being a positive thing for me.’’

Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said last season he probably waited too long to send Conforto down the first time.

Conforto said he doesn’t know where he would be now if he had been allowed to fight through his struggles at the big-league level all season in 2016. But he knows struggling is common, even for great young players.

‘‘There’s always a period of struggle in the big leagues,’’ he said.

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