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The hits keep coming for Schwarber

MLB.com @CarrieMuskat

CHICAGO -- Before Thursday's Cubs game, Kyle Schwarber toured the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center to pay his respects to veterans. It's part of his Neighborhood Heroes program, which he started this year, and it helps him keep things in perspective.

"Whenever you can go visit vets, it's good," Schwarber said. "Things could be a lot worse. Just to see those people and show them respect and thank them for their service, it made my day."

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CHICAGO -- Before Thursday's Cubs game, Kyle Schwarber toured the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center to pay his respects to veterans. It's part of his Neighborhood Heroes program, which he started this year, and it helps him keep things in perspective.

"Whenever you can go visit vets, it's good," Schwarber said. "Things could be a lot worse. Just to see those people and show them respect and thank them for their service, it made my day."

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Schwarber knows about dealing with tough times. Look at his first-half stats -- he was batting .178 before he was sent to Triple-A Iowa to work on his swing.

And look at him now. Schwarber belted two home runs and an RBI triple and finished with four RBIs in the Cubs' 6-3 victory over the White Sox on Thursday.

Since the All-Star break, Schwarber is 10-for-36 with four home runs and seven RBIs. He has set a career high with 17 homers, topping his single-season mark of 16, set in 2015.

"It's all paying off," he said. "I can't be result-based, I want to be process-based still, and today was a good day."

Video: CHC@CWS: Schwarber on his confidence after big night

Schwarber's first home run of the game, in the fourth, was an opposite-field shot to left, and his second went to right. He doesn't care.

"Wherever the hits come, they come," he said. "I'm not worried if it's left-center, right-center, right, left, whatever it is. I just want to worry about putting the barrel on the ball and having good, consistent contact."

Video: CHC@CWS: Maddon on Schwarber's improvements, 6-3 win

Manager Joe Maddon sees a difference.

"He's a little quicker to the ball, shorter to the ball, staying in left-center a lot," Maddon said. "Most of his well-struck balls since he's been back have been from center field over. There's been more utilization to the opposite field. It's all minute kind of adjustments, but when you're talking about a very good Major League player, the adjustments are normally minute and not anything drastic."

Video: CHC@CWS: Schwarber belts his second homer of the game

Before Schwarber was sent to Iowa, Maddon could see that his struggles were wearing on him.

"Right now his confidence is building," Maddon said. "As his confidence builds, you'll see less swings and misses of his pitches."

Starting pitcher Jon Lester, who picked up the win on Thursday, teased Schwarber about his triple, which was the second of his career. His first was his first MLB hit, on June 17, 2015.

Video: CHC@CWS: Schwarber brings home Contreras with triple

"I told him if he had a couple more pushups in there, he would have had three homers tonight," Lester said. "Schwarber's been swinging the bat great since he's been back. You look up there and see his stats, and I think you can easily glance at those and know that's not him. ... The at-bats have gotten better."

There may be some divine intervention as well. Stan Zielinski, the longtime scout who signed Schwarber, passed away in January. Thursday was Zielinski's birthday, and his son, Zach, noted on Twitter that Schwarber also homered one week ago on his father's anniversary. Coincidence?

Tweet from @ZJZielinski: @kschwarb12 HR tonight on Dad's birthday and last weekend on anniversary... coincidence? Maybe Not.Love You Dad. Miss you more everyday. pic.twitter.com/fiXbBW6tfB

"That's cool," Schwarber said when told of the timing. "I know [Stan] is still watching. He'd be happy today."

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