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Maddon praises Schwarber's work in left field

Cubs manager says left-handed slugger will catch at some point during spring
MLB.com @CarrieMuskat

MESA, Ariz. -- At some point this spring, Kyle Schwarber will get a couple innings behind the plate for the Cubs. Right now, he's doing just fine in left field.

"I think he's going to be very good out there," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said on Saturday. "His work is impeccable. He runs better than you think. He wants to do it, and anything he wants to do, he does and he does it well."

MESA, Ariz. -- At some point this spring, Kyle Schwarber will get a couple innings behind the plate for the Cubs. Right now, he's doing just fine in left field.

"I think he's going to be very good out there," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said on Saturday. "His work is impeccable. He runs better than you think. He wants to do it, and anything he wants to do, he does and he does it well."

On Thursday, Schwarber made a leaping catch at the left-field wall to rob the Mariners' Tyler Smith of an extra-base hit. It was pretty impressive for a player coming back from two torn ligaments in his left knee, suffered in the third regular season game last year.

"He's athletic," Maddon said. "He'll be really good out there. I have no issues with him. As long as he stays healthy, he'll be a very good left fielder."

• Cubs Spring Training: Schedule | Information | Tickets

Schwarber is considered the third catcher on the Cubs depth chart behind Willson Contreras and Miguel Montero. At some point, Maddon would like Schwarber to play a few innings in a Cactus League game behind the plate. He has caught some bullpens.

"Going into the season he'll be the third catcher, so if anything were to pop up and we have to throw him out there in the latter part of the game, I would not be afraid to do so," Maddon said.

Worth noting

• Saturday's Cubs lineup may be a good indication of what fans will see on Opening Night on April 2 in St. Louis, minus the designated hitter. Schwarber led off and played left field and was followed by third baseman Kris Bryant, first baseman Anthony Rizzo, second baseman Ben Zobrist, shortstop Addison Russell, right fielder Jason Heyward, Contreras catching, DH Tommy La Stella and center fielder Jon Jay.

In 2015, Maddon had the pitcher bat eighth and is considering doing that again this year. He's just waiting for a breakdown by the baseball operations geeks. Part of the rationale is to create more RBI situations for Schwarber at the top of the order.

"I'm kind of leaning that way, but still waiting to hear," Maddon said, pointing out that it's still early in spring.

"We've been talking about different things, numerical stuff that involves pitchers, pitch selection, hitters chasing," Maddon said. "That's the kind of stuff I've been dealing with right now."

When Javier Baez starts at second in place of Zobrist, he will likely fit into the bottom of the batting order, Maddon said, although it depends on the opposing starting pitcher.

"That's going to be a day-by-day thing," Maddon said. "He won't hit in the top, he'll hit towards the bottom. He'll play against righties and lefties, but if you're going to try to morph him in there, probably start him against left-handed pitchers and give somebody a day's rest."

Video: VEN@PUR: Baez rips an RBI single to extend lead

• The Cubs are coming off their first World Series championship since 1908, so why wouldn't that good vibe rub off on the Northwestern men's basketball team, which will find out Sunday if it makes the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history.

Maddon admitted he hasn't been into bracketology this year, but he is rooting for the Wildcats.

"It's wonderful for the city, and I'll watch more closely now that I'm aware of that," he said. "[Northwestern head coach Chris Collins and his father, Doug] are good guys, good people. A wonderful university, I'm all about that. It's got to be exciting for everybody back in Chicago."

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast.

Chicago Cubs, Kyle Schwarber