Because it was such an eventful offseason, you’ll be forgiven for missing the story of Kyle Schwarber’s dramatic weight loss. I mean, it’s not like the Cubs and various other outlets have been hyping the H-E-double-hockey-sticks out of it for the last two months or anything. But as these things are wont to do once the cameras really start rolling in earnest, the warp drive on this particular narrative was fully engaged Monday.
The angles/speeds are not exactly the same, but I think this side by side view of Kyle Schwarber from last August and today (via @cubs) illustrates just how big a transformation he has made this offseason. pic.twitter.com/Hpt5u1tfsq
— Cubs Insider (@realcubsinsider) February 22, 2018
That tends to happen when Deadspin picks up a tweet, which then appears in Twitter’s “Moments” feature. And, buddy, let me tell you, Indians fans are not happy about it. Seriously, I had to borrow the Morton Salt girl’s umbrella to make it through Monday evening.
In the midst of all that frivolity, though, there was some interesting Schwarber-related news coming out of Mesa. As Carrie Muskat reported, the left fielder has ditched the bulky knee brace he’s worn in the field ever since he came back from a torn ACL in the 2016 World Series. Which the Cubs won. After the Indians held a 3-1 lead. People forget that.
“It’s funny, because you don’t think it has a big effect on yourself when you put it on, but when you take it off, it really does feel different and makes you feel more mobile and less restricted,” Schwarber told Muskat Monday.
While dropping the 20-pound spare tire from his torso took time and could be seen and felt incrementally, removing the brace was a more immediate boost. But while the immediacy of the physical impact of the dueling weight loss methods differed, they no doubt had very similar psychological effects. It all adds up to greater mobility and confidence.
That means Schwarber should not only gain another step or two in the outfield, he also believes he’s got significantly more range. There’s really no way to quantify that latter part, but it’s important for a guy who has finally committed himself to being a full-time outfielder.
Well, sort of. Schwarber did admit to sneaking in a bullpen session and he says he’ll keep the brace around in the event that he’s called upon for emergency duty behind the plate. As for his true focus, though, he’s following the KISS method.
“I want to go out there and make the plays I’m supposed to make,” Schwarber explained. “That’s my thing right now. I’ll keep working with these guys.”
The guys he’s referring to are coach Will Venable, the former Padres outfielder who joined the organization last year as a special assistant, and outfield coach/former star relief pitcher Doug Dascenzo. And if Schwarber’s goal seems exceedingly pedestrian, consider that just making the plays he’s supposed to make would be a big step in the right direction. And a much quicker step, at that.
And when you get right down to it, all Schwarber’s got to do is be okay out in left. After all, even this guy managed to hold down a corner spot for a few years…