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Schwarber on long injury rehab: ‘I’m going to come back better’

Kyle Schwarber is helped by Cubs trainers Thursday night after suffering severe leg and ankle injuries in an outfield collision with Dexter Fowler.

PHOENIX – Kyle Schwarber didn’t expect the extreme severity of his injury diagnosis Friday, but he also didn’t spend much time feeling bad for himself.

“Obviously, I was disappointed for about 30 minutes,” said Schwarber, who spoke publicly Saturday for the first time since being told two full ligament tears in his left knee will require surgery and end his season.

Wait. Thirty minutes?

“I got to talk to some of the other guys, and they definitely brought my spirits up,” he said. “I could definitely feel bad if I did something wrong, or if I wasn’t playing hard or something of that nature. But me and Dex did everything we possibly could to catch that ball.”

That’s center fielder Dexter Fowler, who converged with left-fielder Schwarber in the second inning of Thursday’s game in Arizona, with Schwarber’s left leg absorbing most of the damage from the collision.

“You feel like you got in a car crash,” said Fowler, who landed on his hip and remains sore from the crash. “That’s a big man over there. But you respect the hell out of him for the way he handled it. It definitely sucks. He’s a big part of our team, and he’s my little brother over there, too.”

Schwarber, the young slugger, whose power ignited the Cubs’ playoff run after his midseason debut, suffered full tears in his ACL and LCL, along with a severely sprained ankle.

Surgery hasn’t been scheduled as doctors wait for the swelling to subside enough. Schwarber, who originally was scheduled to remain behind in Arizona for a few days until it was safer to fly, was cleared to return home with the team on Sunday’s charter and is scheduled to meet with team doctors before Monday’s home opener.

“I have a pretty good feel for my own body, so I knew something was probably wrong [Thursday night],” Schwarber said. “But I didn’t see two tears coming.

“But you’ve go to face it head on. That’s what I’m going to do. I’m not going to back down from it. I want to be pushing to get myself bigger, faster and stronger for next year.”

It’s too early for Schwarber to know what his rehab timeline will be, or even where much of it will be. And he can’t know what the leg will ultimately allow him to do when he returns – whether catching, for instance, will be viable by then for the former No. 4 overall draft pick.

“It’s way too soon to say, and it all depends on how well the surgery goes, and how well the rehab goes,” team president Theo Esptein said. “If everything goes the way we want it to go with the surgery and rehab, and he comes out the other side with full range of motion, there’s the chance it won’t impact him at all going forward.”

Schwarber isn’t thinking about timelines or results, except for this:

“I think I’m going to come back better,” he said. “There’s going to be a lot of hard work put into this rehab. I look at it as I’ve got a whole year to prepare for a new season. Obviously, there’s going to be some bumps in the road along the way.

“I’m going to push myself as hard as I can to be back healthy 100 percent, so wherever that timetable leaves me, I’ll be ready.”