Schwarber's approach impressing Maddon
MILWAUKEE -- Kyle Schwarber passed more tests Saturday night in his crash course on how to play in the big leagues. The rookie hit his fourth big league home run in the Cubs' 4-2 victory over the Brewers, but he also battled starter Matt Garza in an 11-pitch at-bat, and coaxed relievers Jason Motte and newcomer Tommy Hunter in a stressful ninth.
The long at-bat against Garza came with two outs in the third and helped set up Anthony Rizzo's three-run homer. Cubs manager Joe Maddon liked Schwarber's approach with each pitch.
"He's going through the same thing over and over again," Maddon said. "He's not in a rush, he's not in a hurry. He's just, 'I'm ready to hit on the next pitch.' You don't see a lot of guys have that method at the plate at such a young age. He did a lot of good things behind the plate today, too. He had himself a nice day.
"Every pitch is a new adventure for him, and that's how a hitter should approach an at-bat, and he does," Maddon said.
It was an adventurous at-bat against Garza as Schwarber broke his bat, with part of it sailing into the seats behind the Brewers' dugout. He also fouled a pitch off that went into the seats behind the Cubs' dugout on the third-base side. Fortunately, no one was hurt.
"I was just trying to battle and get on base any way possible," said Schwarber, who is the Cubs' top prospect. "I almost killed a couple people. I'm sorry about that. I felt good at the plate today."
Whatever he's doing is working so far. Schwarber, 22, is batting .338 with two doubles, a triple, four homers and 13 RBIs in his first 22 career games. Veteran catcher Miguel Montero begins a rehab assignment on Sunday, but when he returns, Schwarber is staying. Maddon wants the rookie's bat in the lineup.
"He's done a nice job behind the plate," Maddon said of Schwarber. "I'd like to believe he's here for awhile."
Don't expect the Cubs' 2014 first-round Draft pick to get lackadaisical.
"I'm going to keep working my butt off to stay up here and help contribute to this team win," Schwarber said.
Which means prepping for 99-mph fastballs from Hunter. The right-hander, acquired Friday from the Orioles, was needed after Motte gave up a double to Adam Lind and then watched Khris Davis hit a long fly ball to right that Jorge Soler snared with a leaping catch at the wall.
"That was a great catch by Soler -- a big difference-maker for us," Maddon said.
Schwarber had talked to Hunter before the game to get acquainted with the reliever. However, he wasn't quite ready for Hunter's 99-mph fastball.
"I looked up and I'm like, 'That's a 99 ball there,'" Schwarber said. "That's why it got on me a little bit.' That's good stuff to have right there.
"That's probably the first time I caught a 99 ball right there," he said. "It doesn't look any different. It still looks the same coming out of the hand. It just gets on you a little quicker."