MLB Hoosiers (Sept. 20): Kyle Schwarber Pulled From Game on National TV After Miscue

Tom Brew

These past few weeks have been rough on Chicago Cubs left fielder Kyle Schwarber, and it got worse — much worse — in front of a national television audience on Sunday.

During Schwarber's five-plus years with the Cubs, he's been known as a power hitter with average-at-best defensive skills in the outfield. But on Sunday night, during the Cubs' prime-time game on ESPN against the Minnesota Twins, he misplayed a ball that turned a double into a triple in the second inning. 

He slowly tracked the ball down off the wall and his throw to third was late. 

He didn't return for the third inning, getting yanked by Cubs manager David Ross, who apparently didn't like Schwarber's effort on the play.

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  • **** MONDAY UPDATE **** Schwarber starts in left field, gets two doubles in Cubs' win on Monday night. Great quotes from Ross and Schwarber:  CLICK HERE FOR GAME STORY
  • **** TUESDAY UPDATE **** Kyle Schwarber goes 0-for-4 in Cubs' loss, but  they clinch a playoff spot anyway. CLICK HERE FOR TUESDAY ROUNDUP

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"I think the guy shouldn't have gotten to third base there," Schwarber said after the game, which was won by the Twins, 4-0.  "It put (starting pitcher) Yu (Darvish) in a tough spot there. I put the team in a bad spot there, and I have to learn from it and move on."

It's rare for a manager to pull a player for a defensive lapse — especially in the middle of a game on national TV and in the final regular-season home game this year. Ross then declined to talk about it after the game despite repeated questions, saying the issue would be taken care of in-house.

“I’d like to keep that in-house,” Ross said. “I’ll keep all that in-house on all the things involving Kyle Schwarber.”

Schwarber handled it like a pro, remaining in the dugout to root on his teammates during the game and answering all questions about getting pulled after the game. 

"It's not the ideal way to learn from it, but I think I can take a lot of different punches," Schwarber said. "I pride myself in being a team guy and a guy who's going to play 120 percent every play.

"I'm not going to be that guy that's going to be selfish and just sit there and feel bad for himself. There's still a game going on. It's bigger than me."

Schwarber is in the middle of the worst hitting slump of his career, and that might be having a carry-over affect on him out in the field as well. Since Sept. 5 and counting Sunday night's flyout in the first inning, Schwarber is just 2-for-39 from the plate, a dismal .051 average. He's down to .190 for the year, and hasn't had an extra-base hit since Sept. 1.

Schwarber, a former Indiana star who is one of five Hoosiers currently playing in the big leagues, is just one of several Cubs who has been struggling at the plate, but they've been winning anyway. Heading into the final week of the regular season, the Cubs are 31-22 and have a 3.5-game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Central with seven games to go.

It's going to be interesting to see the after-effects of this situation with Schwarber, who's a popular figure in the Cubs' locker room and someone they certainly need if they are going to make a run in the expanded 16-team playoffs that start next week. He and Ross, the Cubs' first-year manager, used to be teammates and Schwarber calls him his "mentor.''

"He's a wonderful teammate," Cubs center fielder Ian Happ said of Schwarber. "He's someone that nobody ever questions his work or the attitude he comes into the game with. I can speak for everyone in the clubhouse when I say that. He was probably the loudest guy in the dugout.''

The Cubs finish the regular season with four games at Pittsburgh and then three with the Chicago White Sox. 

Hoosiers in the Pros on Sunday

  • Caleb Baragar, San Francisco Giants: Baragar pitched a scoreless eighth inning, retiring the side on just seven pitches in the Giants' 14-2 win over the Oakland A's. It's was Baragar's 13th consecutive appearance without allowing a run since Aug. 12. During that stretch, he's allowed only five base hits and his ERA has dropped from 11.25 to 4.58. His 5-1 record leads the team as well. The win evened San Francisco's record at 26-26 on the season and left them in a virtual tie with the Cincinnati Reds and Milwaukee Brewers for the final playoff spot in the National League.
  • Alex Dickerson, San Francisco Giants: Dickerson didn't play in the Giants' win after being placed on the paternity list. His wife is due to have a baby any day now.
  • Jonathan Stiever, Chicago White Sox: Stiever did not pitch in Chicago's 7-3 win loss to the Cincinnati Reds. The White Sox are now 34-19 and their lead in the American League Central shrunk to two games over the Minnesota Twins, with five games to go.
  • Aaron Slegers, Tampa Bay Rays: Slegers did not pitch in the Rays' 2-1 loss to the Baltimore Orioles. The Rays retained their 3.5-game lead over the New York Yankees in the AL East with their league-best 35-19 record, with six games remaining. This week the Rays have three games in New York against the Mets and finish the regular-season with three games at home against the Philadelphia Phillies.
  • * Kyle Hart, Boston Red Sox: The Red Sox placed Hart on the 45-day injury list on Tuesday, so his season is done with Boston. He struggled in his major-league debut, appearing in four games — three starts — but allowing 19 runs and 24 hits in just 11 innings.
  • * Josh Phegley, Chicago Cubs: Phegley was designated for assignment by the Cubs and was sent to their alternate site on Sept. 3.

Best baseball stories from Sports Illustrated

  • EARLY ARRIVAL: The young and rebuilding Chicago White Sox have reached the playoffs a year ahead of schedule. CLICK HERE
  • MLB POWER RANKINGS: As we head into the final week of the regular season, herer's how we rank everyone, from 1-to-30. CLICK HERE
  • VERLANDER SURGERY: Houston Astros starting pitcher Justin Verlander needs elbow surgery and his 2021 season is now in question. CLICK HERE

Scores, schedule and standings

  • For the most up-to-date scores and schedule, CLICK HERE
  • For the updated MLB standings in real time, CLICK HERE
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