3:06pm: Schwarber is headed to the DL, per MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat (via Twitter). It appears that Munenori Kawasaki could be the roster replacement. He is not on the 40-man, so space would need to be cleared.
APRIL 8, 11:33am: There is “a lot of concern” in the Cubs organization about Schwarber’s injury, tweets ESPN’s Buster Olney. According to Olney, the team is more concerned about Schwarber’s knee than his ankle. ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers tweets that an update from the Cubs won’t come until “very late in the day.”
APRIL 7: Cubs catcher/outfielder Kyle Schwarber left today’s game after a scary collision with Dexter Fowler. Preliminary x-rays were negative, with the initial diagnosis suggesting that he has escaped with only a left ankle sprain, MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat was among those to report on Twitter. He’ll have an MRI tomorrow for a closer look.
While any loss would be unfortunate, it’s certainly promising to hear that the results don’t appear as serious as they looked on the field. Medical personnel checked out both Schwarber’s knee and lower leg after the impact. He was able to get to his feet, but couldn’t put enough weight on the leg to walk all the way from the warning track to the dugout, so he ultimately departed via cart.
It’s important to note, too, that the Cubs are as well-equipped as any team to absorb the loss of a regular position player. Chicago did deal away Chris Coghlan, but signed two everyday options in Jason Heyward and Dexter Fowler to go with Schwarber and Jorge Soler in the outfield. Kris Bryant and Javier Baez could also factor into the outfield mix, and Matt Szczur also remains on hand.
The 23-year-old rose quickly to the majors and made a huge impact last year. A catcher by trade, Schwarber’s bat has been good enough that he’s expected to spend regular time in the outfield while he hones his craft behind the plate. He ended the 2015 season — his age-22 campaign — with a robust .246/.355/.487 batting line and 16 home runs over 273 plate appearances. Of course, there’s room for growth. In particular, Schwarber saw most of his action against right-handed pitching, which he demolished, but struggled to a .481 OPS in 61 trips to the plate against southpaws.
Schwarber’s real upside, perhaps, is down the line, as he could be an immensely valuable player if he’s even a passable option in a catching role. Big-time prospect Willson Contreras will factor into the future at the position as well. Even if he sticks in the outfield, though, there’s reason to think Schwarber can provide sufficiently useful glovework to be a significant asset. Some notable gaffes aside, he rated somewhat below average by measure of Defensive Runs Saved last year but was an approximately average performer in the eyes of UZR — which is no mean feat given his limited experience on the grass.