Sidelined for year, Cubs slugger Schwarber thinking to 2017

PHOENIX (AP) Kyle Schwarber says he wouldn't change a thing about the way he pursued that flyball in the gap.

Except, of course, how it turned out.

On crutches, his voice cracking at times, the young Chicago Cubs slugger said Saturday that he's already getting ready to play in 2017.

''I look at it as I've got a whole year to prepare for a new season,'' Schwarber said. ''I'm going to be feeling like I'm coming back even better.''

Schwarber's 2016 season ended just as it was getting started when he tore ligaments in his left knee Thursday in an outfield collision at Arizona.

Schwarber is headed for surgery sometime in the next three weeks.

Normally a catcher, the 23-year-old Schwarber was playing left field when he banged into center fielder Dexter Fowler chasing a drive by Jean Segura that wound up as an inside-the-park home run.

''That was just a perfect placed ball,'' Schwarber said. ''It's just a freak accident.''

Schwarber found out Friday that he was sidelined for the season. He said he was very disappointed for about 30 minutes, especially with the Cubs considered World Series contenders, but added his teammates helped boost him.

''Now I have to be there for them in a different way,'' Schwarber said. ''They reiterated that I'm still going to be a part of this team, which means a lot to me. Obviously a long process ahead, but that means a lot coming from the players and staff.''

Schwarber hasn't been told yet when his surgery will take place or when rehabilitation will begin. He said he knew it was serious when his knee swelled up the night of the injury.

''I could definitely feel bad if I did something wrong, or if I wasn't playing hard or something in that nature. But me and Dex did everything that we possibly could to catch that ball,'' Schwarber said.

''My spirits won't get down. I know it's going to be a long road, there's going to be ups and downs, so I just have to keep a good attitude with this,'' he said.

Schwarber made his major league debut last year. He went to hit a franchise-record five homers in nine postseason games.

Fowler described the collision as a ''car crash,'' and that neither player called for the ball to make the catch.

''That's a big man right there,'' said Fowler, who has been playing despite hip soreness from the accident. ''But you respect the hell out of him for the way he handled it. We both were going hard and stuff like that happens.''

Cubs manager Joe Maddon said sometimes such collisions are unavoidable.

''It's part of the game. I honestly don't worry about it,'' he said. ''We do our best to prepare guys. Our guys are prepared. Sometimes it doesn't work that way.''

Schwarber originally thought his ankle was hurt the worse. Those X-rays came back with nothing more than a sprain, but an MRI revealed the torn knee ligaments.

Schwarber said he's going back to Chicago to meet with the Cubs' doctor when the team leaves Arizona after Sunday's game.

He said he's not getting his hopes up about joining the Cubs for introductions at the team's home opener Monday night.

''We'll get him back. We'll get him in the clubhouse as soon as we can and be part of it in that manner,'' Maddon said.

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