PHILADELPHIA — Phillies outfielder Kyle Schwarber went to bed early the night before the Home Run Derby last Monday in Los Angeles. He had to compete the next day. He woke up to a photo of Cubs outfielder Ian Happ posing with the Schwarber family.
‘‘He goes, ‘Man, you’ve changed,’ ’’ a smiling Schwarber recounted to the Sun-Times.
Schwarber was well-represented during All-Star week, too. His wife, 4-month-old son (whom Happ met for the first time), father, two sisters and their husbands and a couple of friends came to Los Angeles for the festivities.
‘‘They all got to see Ian [the first night], except me,’’ Schwarber said.
Schwarber and Happ got plenty of time together the rest of the week. Happ even chipped in as Schwarber’s ‘‘towel guy,’’ as Happput it, during the derby.
Schwarber and two of his former Cubs teammates, Happ and catcher Willson Contreras, played together on the National League team. And they shared a field again from Friday through Sunday, when the Cubs swept the Phillies in a three-game series.
Contreras and Schwarber had been to the All-Star Game before, but this was Happ’s first selection.
‘‘We’ve kind of had somewhat similar careers, where we’ve had some ups, we’ve had downs,’’ Schwarber said, referring to himself and Happ. ‘‘And to see him finally get the opportunity to go out there and show it on a daily basis and get rewarded, be an All-Star selected by his peers, it’s a big honor.’’
When Schwarber and Happ were teammates, they sometimes were competing for at-bats.
‘‘You want so badly for him, as such a talented hitter, to be able to play every day,’’ Happ told the Sun-Times. ‘‘But you want to play every day yourself.’’
After the shortened 2020 season, the Cubs non-tendered Schwarber, who had hit a career-worst .188. He signed with the Nationals for 2021, earned his first All-Star selection, was acquired by the Red Sox at the trade deadline for a deep playoff run, then joined the Phillies as a free agent last offseason on a four-year, $79 million deal.
Happ, meanwhile, has put together a breakout 2022 season, entering Sunday on pace for career bests in batting average (.280), on-base percentage (.367) and strikeout rate (21.9%).
‘‘You always wish you could do it as teammates,’’ Happ said. ‘‘But to be able to root that guy on from afar and check in with him and watch his success, then be able to, in some way, experience it together finally, it was just really a full-circle journey.’’
Happ’s success this season also has put him squarely in the middle of trade rumors with Contreras, whose contract situation is reminiscent of where the Cubs stood with Javy Baez, Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant before they traded them last year.
Schwarber said he hasn’t given Happ his two cents about life after the Cubs, but they have made similar comments.
‘‘At the end of the day, we’re still playing baseball — and playing baseball for really good organizations, too,’’ Schwarber said. ‘‘Don’t get me wrong: [The Cubs are] a great organization, great fan base to play for. But outside of it, there’s new adventures to be found and new fan bases to go out there [and play for] and different things to tackle. Like here, we’re trying to end a 10-year playoff drought.’’
Watching from afar, Schwarber can look from several vantage points at the rebuild the Cubs have initiated.
‘‘I’ll never know the business side; I’m just a player,’’ he said. ‘‘Our job is to go out there and play every day, play hard and try to help the team win. But the baseball fan in me talking, it’s shocking. It’s such a big market.
‘‘I’m not even saying for myself. I’m more saying for a Rizz, a Kris, a Javy — or there’s more talks now of other guys going.’’
And soon. The trade deadline Aug. 2 is a little more than a week away. But the weekend served as another mini-reunion, as the Cubs notched their first three-game sweep of the season.