Schwarber, Chili find plenty of common ground
Like young slugger, new Cubs hitting coach struggled in second season
MESA, Ariz. -- When Kyle Schwarber and new Cubs hitting coach Chili Davis met, the two realized they had a lot in common. That connection could help Schwarber this season.
In Davis' first season in the Major Leagues in 1982 with the Giants, he batted .261. But the next year, he started slow and was batting .222 when he was sent down to Triple-A Phoenix in late June.
"My second year, I went into slopville, where boom, I hit .230 or something," Davis said Friday. "I got sent down to the Minor Leagues around the All-Star break. I needed to go out there and become myself again because I was trying to become something in the big leagues that I wasn't. I didn't try to do that in my first year.
"My third year, I came back and I just did the things that I did well and I ended up making an All-Star team and my career took off."
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That should sound familiar to Cubs fans who watched Schwarber scuffle last season, resulting in a trip to Triple-A Iowa in June when he was batting .171.
"I just talked to him about that -- 'Hey, everybody struggles and that second year is a tough year because pitchers learn you and you're trying to repeat what you did your first year, and that's not easy to do," Davis said. "The only thing you can repeat is your focus. You've got to repeat that focus and that intensity and level of play you had the first year to allow you to be that player.
"If you can do that day in and day out, then you're giving yourself a chance," he said. "All you can do in this game is give yourself the best possible chance to be successful."
Schwarber could relate to the situation.
"The guy has a really great understanding of the game and he gets the hitters' side of the game where he can just sit down and talk to you and go through what's in your mindset," Schwarber said. "I'm looking foward to working with him. I think it'll be a great new voice."
The two have another connection as well. Davis, 58, was a catcher in the Minor Leagues and reluctantly converted to the outfield. Schwarber wanted to catch, but a horrific knee injury in the third game of the 2016 season has forced him to make the switch to the outfield. This season, Schwarber is considered the emergency catcher.
"They were converting me in Double-A and I was bucking it," Davis said about switching from catcher to the outfield. "I didn't want to play in the outfield because it was boring, boring. I got to the big leagues and they told me I wasn't going to catch because they had three other catchers in the organization who were prospects and I was most qualified to move somewhere elese. They won. I moved to center field."
Davis' career turned out all right. A three-time All-Star, he finished in the Top 25 in Most Valuable Player Award voting three times and played 19 seasons in the big leagues.
Schwarber is just getting started. What did he learn from last year?
"You have to be able to take it a day at a time, can't get too high, can't get too low," Schwarber said. "Don't beat yourself up, because there's always tomorrow."