Sweet surprise: Schwarber returns to Wrigley

May 19th, 2021

There was the pregame tribute video, the presentation of a No. 12 panel from the Wrigley Field scoreboard and the in-game cheers from Cubs fans. Then, there was the Twix bar purposefully placed in left field.

“Funny little gesture,” the recipient, Kyle Schwarber, said. “He gave me a good little jab there.”

Kris Bryant, who started in left like Schwarber, imparted a candy gift to his former teammate in Schwarber’s first return to Wrigley Field. Schwarber played his first six seasons for the Cubs (2015-20) before signing with the Nationals this winter.

“I had about eight or nine pieces of candy in my pocket that whole inning, and then just left him a present,” Bryant explained Tuesday night. “We were talking about bringing him a [beer], but that'd probably be frowned upon. But no, I love Schwarbs. I love [former teammate Jon] Lester. ... I'm just glad someone kind of caught that on camera.”

Schwarber had been feeling a wave of emotions about the game, and he indulged in the chocolate from Bryant. A fourth-inning, two-run homer followed thereafter.

“Maybe the Twix calmed my nerves down,” Schwarber said. 

The nerves were to be expected. Schwarber had played his entire Major League career in Chicago before being non-tendered by the Cubs in early December, following a 2020 season in which he hit .188 with 11 home runs. The Nationals signed Schwarber to a one-year deal the following month to be their starting left fielder. 

“The end result of how I obviously departed from the Cubs wasn’t ideal,” Schwarber said. “Obviously, you want to go out there, and you want to finish out your tenure with your team and move on from there, and whatever happens, happens. It’s not a hate thing or anything like that. It’s more of just going out there and proving something to yourself."

Following a slow month of April, Schwarber entered Tuesday slashing .302/.412/.628 with four home runs and 11 RBIs in his last 11 games, including a 1-for-3 night (2 RBIs) in the series opener. 

“Obviously, going against your former team and being DFA’d in that spot and going out there and putting in a big hit there in the moment felt good,” Schwarber said. 

Manager Dave Martinez confirmed Schwarber did in fact eat another Twix bar before Tuesday’s game. 

“He loves it, he wants to keep it fun,” Martinez said. “He stays in the moment. He had his chuckles, and he ate the Twix bar and got back to business. Just so you know, he will eat a Twix bar before the game today.” 

Nationals 'very pleased' with Stras’ session 

Stephen Strasburg threw 34 pitches in a bullpen session on Tuesday afternoon at Wrigley Field. Martinez said he was “very pleased” by the right-hander, who is working his way back from the injured list (right shoulder inflammation). The Nationals will reevaluate Strasburg on Wednesday to determine next steps. 

In the meantime, righty Erick Fedde, who has been starting in place of Strasburg, also threw a bullpen Tuesday. He remains on schedule for Friday, should the Nats call on him to make his ninth start of the season. 

Espino optioned 

Right-hander Paolo Espino was optioned to Triple-A Rochester on Tuesday after southpaw Patrick Corbin was reinstated from the paternity list ahead of his start. Espino will remain with the Nats in Chicago as a member of the taxi squad. He made two relief appearances in this recent big league stint, allowing a pair of runs and striking out two over three innings.