Underdog Schwindel 'a real bright spot'

August 13th, 2021

MIAMI -- When one door closes, another one opens. That’s likely the approach the Cubs will take the rest of the 2021 season. It’s an opportunity for the young and hungry players to prove themselves.

Not the household name that Anthony Rizzo has earned -- not yet, anyway -- but the Cubs first baseman is doing what he can to at least put his name on the scorecard, and that’s a start.

His pinch-hit home run in Thursday’s 17-4 drubbing at the hands of the Brewers was one of the few highlights for the Cubs. In fact, he was one of the few positives in the most recent seven-game homestand, all of which resulted in losses. Schwindel hit .381 (8-for-21) over that stretch with two homers, two doubles and six RBIs.

“I think he’s done a really nice job of making decisions,” Cubs manager David Ross said of the 29-year-old right-handed hitter. “The only time where he’s looked really overmatched was [against Brewers starter Corbin] Burnes, and Burnes was pretty good the other night.”

Schwindel was claimed off waivers on July 18 from Oakland and assigned to Triple-A Iowa. He got the call to join the big league club on July 30 and is doing all he can to stick.

“He’s put the barrel on the ball, which has definitely been an emphasis for me and things that we’re going to continue to try to grow at,” Ross said. “But I think he’s done a really nice job of knowing what he does well -- being ready to hit, play an OK first base -- he’s fitting right in.”

An 18th-round Draft pick of the Kansas City Royals back in 2013, he was in his seventh season in the Minors before getting his first taste of the big leagues with the Royals in 2019.

But alas, after only six games with the team, going 1-for-15, he was sent back down the Minors. Released by Kansas City in 2019, Schwindel was signed by Detroit but never cracked its big league club. He was signed as a free agent by Oakland in November 2020, and appeared in eight games at the start of the 2021 season, going 3-for-20 with a homer, a double and three RBIs before he was designated for assignment on July 19.

Still, Ross remains confident that Schwindel could have a role on the Cubs' squad, whatever that turns out to be.

“Come off the bench and hit. He pinch-hit and did a really nice job facing [former Cubs closer Craig] Kimbrel,” Ross said. “He got a base hit off the bench. Just different roles for him, and he’s been ready to go in every situation we’ve put him in.”

He’s certainly the kind of underdog fans want to root for.

“I think he’s been a real bright spot since he’s come up with just pretty consistent at-bats of being able to touch the baseball,” Ross said.