Schwarber, Cubs hope trim look brings big '18
'I expect him to have a huge year,' Bryant says
CHICAGO -- Kyle Schwarber has had to deal with some good-natured teasing from his Cubs teammates after showing up looking svelte and trim because of a change in his diet this offseason. He did confess that he allows himself to splurge on one meal a week. What's the food he misses the most?
"I would say pizza," Schwarber said on Friday on the first day of the Cubs Convention. "I've always enjoyed pizza growing up, and you're in the pizza capital of the world in Chicago."
The adjustments have been positive, he said, despite the razzing.
"It's something I can control," Schwarber said. "I want to be the best baseball player I can be and help the Cubs get to the World Series again, and this is something I can control."
Schwarber's personality hasn't changed.
"He's still the same Kyle to me -- he's still Schwarbs," Kristopher Bryant said. "It's nice to see everybody here put in the work to help the team out for this upcoming year. I expect him to have a huge year."
Anyone concerned that Schwarber has lost some power by losing weight can relax.
"When someone is throwing 95 [mph] and you hit it on the barrel, there's a good chance you'll hit it out," Schwarber said. "That won't be a problem at all. I'm trying to get quicker, more explosive, and that's going to help, too."
Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein sees good things from the changes.
"There were so many balls last year that he just fouled straight back, and in the past, he had driven them," Epstein said. "If he's a little more athletic and a little more limber, it can only help. He's another year removed from his knee [injury], which will help, too."
• Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward is spending most of his time this offseason at the team's Spring Training complex in Mesa, Ariz., getting to know new hitting coach Chili Davis.
"We've been hanging out, hitting some, talking hitting, talking baseball," Heyward said Friday. "It's been fun."
A year ago, Heyward moved to the Phoenix area and became a self-proclaimed "gym rat," working out at the complex and trying to feel better about his swing after batting .230 in his first year with the Cubs. At that time, he was working with hitting coaches John Mallee and Eric Hinske, who are no longer with the team.
"It's different people," Heyward said of this offseason. "Naturally, I'd say it's different because it's a different person. Chili played for 19 years and switch hit and all those things, so he brings a different perspective and a different mindset. For me, Chili is somebody who is team-oriented, at-bat wise, and has a plan and wants to get that across to the group and everybody going in the same direction."
Heyward said he didn't move to Arizona last year just to work on his hitting, but it was easier to be based near the Cubs' facility.
"I was going to hit in Arizona and it works out that I have him there and other coaches there and I can train and hit, so it's cool," he said.
• Bryant's Las Vegas buddy Bryce Harper will be a free agent after the 2018 season. Harper has teased on social media that it would be fun to be Bryant's teammate.
"I don't make those decisions and I don't think I could ever make those decisions," Bryant said when asked about the possibility. "Who wouldn't want Bryce Harper on their team? He's 26 and five years, six years in the big leagues and a superstar. He'd bring a lot to any team. That will be an interesting one to follow next offseason. I would love to have him on our team."
• Cubs Minor League right-handed pitcher Wilfre Delgado was suspended by the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball on Friday for violating the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. Delgado was on the roster of the rookie-level Dominican Summer League Cubs. He has received a 72-game suspension without pay after testing positive for Stanozolol, a performance-enhancing substance, in violation of the program. The suspension will be effective at the start of the 2018 DSL season.