While we won’t know the results of the MRI on Willson Contreras’ hamstring until Friday, there’s already speculation that he’ll be out for several weeks.
When he’s placed on the disabled list, it’s likely that Victor Caratini will be recalled from Triple-A Iowa. Alex Avila is likely to get most of the playing time while Contreras is out, with Caratini serving as a backup.
Caratini, in limited duty the last time he was in the big leagues, hit just .192/.250/.385 (5-for-26) with one home run.
So what about the possibility of Kyle Schwarber catching some games in Contreras’ absence?
Schwarber has made it clear in public statements that he still wants to catch. As recently as June, manager Joe Maddon said he’d be fine with Kyle behind the plate:
Kyle Schwarber has caught only five innings in three games this season, but manager Joe Maddon says he has no reservations about leaving his struggling slugger behind the plate for an extended period if needed.
"I think given the opportunity, he would be fine back there," Maddon said.
"He has been bugging me to do this," Maddon said of Schwarber, who plays left field and handles the designated-hitter duties in interleague games in American League ballparks. "He's a great student. It's good to get him there once in a while so he can feel it."
As noted in that quote, Schwarber has caught in only three games this year for a total of five innings. The last time was the last two innings of a 14-3 Cubs blowout win over the Mets in New York on June 13.
I am certainly not suggesting that Schwarber should take over the bulk of catching duties. Obviously, those will be in good hands with Avila, and that’s exactly the reason Theo & Co. acquired him, to provide a solid veteran presence behind Contreras.
But I don’t see any reason why he couldn’t catch one game a week, for example, to keep his bat in the lineup. Doing that would probably put Jon Jay (or Ben Zobrist) in left field with Albert Almora Jr. in center.
Schwarber’s work ethic is off the charts. We already know this from the rehab he did in 2016 that got him into the World Series, several months ahead of when anyone thought he’d be able to play. That worked out all right. I don’t have any doubts that Kyle would put in the work necessary to start some games, and I believe his knee can handle it.
So. Would you do this? I would. Not every day, but some days.
Should Kyle Schwarber catch occasionally while Willson Contreras is out?
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