Photo: Associated Press file
As late as the end of September, the Chicago Cubs’ Kyle Schwarber wasn’t expecting to have much of an impact until 2017. Between the Cubs’ NLCS victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers and the beginning of the World Series, however, that all changed.
The 23-year-old’s 2016 season was over even before it had really started this year, as Schwarber tore the ACL and MCL in his left knee in a collision in the outfield with centerfielder Dexter Fowler just two games into the year.
Both Pete Rose and John Smoltz, former Major League players and analysts for Fox Sports, who’s televising the series this year, felt Schwarber even getting a hit was a longshot.
Schwarber silenced the doubters by crushing a double off the wall in his second at-bat of the night, becoming the first major league player to ever record their first hit of the season in the World Series.
Following his surgery on April 18, the team had announced that they were focusing on getting Schwarber ready for 2017 Spring Training. The doctor that performed the surgery classified his chances of making a return in 2016 as “Real slim,” pointing to a six to nine month recovery period.
Schwarber made it back in just over six months, and got ready for Tuesday night’s series opener by taking approximately 1,300 swings and spending two days in the Arizona Fall League while Chicago was taking on Los Angeles. Before that, Schwarber had spent long days in the pool jogging and jumping, rehabbing his knee through what felt like some never-ending days.
“Those first six weeks … it was just trying to get my knee to bend and I was done,” said Schwarber of the long road back. “There are times when you’re going to get frustrated because you feel you are doing the same thing over and over.”
Cubs GM Theo Epstein was floored last week when the six-month medical reports indicated Schwarber was a month ahead of schedule. Schwarber lobbied hard to get sent to the Arizona Fall League, where he could show he was ready.
By attacking his rehab training head-on, Schwarber set up his miracle return. It’s clear that he, unlike long-suffering Cubs fans, wasn’t okay with just waiting until next year. His dedication to his sport, his training and his team is what is allowing Kyle Schwarber to become a present-day Cubs legend in the making.