5:26pm: Topkin hears that Navarro has only a bruised nerve in his left leg and should be fine for the start of the season. He’ll sit out the next two or three days of camp.
2:07pm: According to Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times, Rays catcher Dioner Navarro was injured in a collision at home plate on Saturday afternoon and had to be carted off the field. He looked to be in a considerable amount of pain and was motioning toward his left leg while trainers attended to him.
If Navarro has some kind of break or deep bone bruise and is forced to miss the start of the season, Kelly Shoppach will likely handle catching duties all to himself for the early part of April.
Navarro, 26, had a miserable .218/.261/.322 batting line last year with eight homers and 32 RBI in 376 at-bats. He badly needs a bounce-back season and was off to a 6-for-13 start in Grapefruit League play this spring. Shoppach, 30 in April, was brought over from Cleveland in early December for a player to be named later. He batted .214/.335/.399 last year with 12 home runs and 40 RBI in 271 at-bats.
With Game 6 of the NLCS just hours away, the Dodgers will opt for a lefty-heavy lineup against right-hander Kyle Hendricks. Batting leadoff is rookie outfielder Andrew Toles, who made one appearance at the top of the lineup during the 2016 season. The Cubs, meanwhile, will bench Jason Heyward in favor of Albert Almora Jr.. This will be Almora’s first start of the playoffs, and while he has yet to face Kershaw in October, his right-handed bat could play well against the lefty at the bottom of the lineup.
Game time is scheduled for 8 PM EDT; lineups are below.
1. Andrew Toles (L) LF
6. Wilson Contreras (R) C
8. Albert Almora Jr. (R) RF
9. Kyle Hendricks (R) RHP
UPDATE, 5:08 PM EDT: Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon will not rule out a World Series appearance for Kyle Schwarber if the Cubs advance. MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat reports that Schwarber could play through a simulated game on Sunday, during which the Cubs’ medical and baseball staff would evaluate his chances for a late season return. If he does play, it will likely be in a pinch-hitting or DH role and not on the field.
Cubs’ outfielder Kyle Schwarber will return to the playing field on Saturday, per a report by the Chicago Tribune’s Mark Gonzales. The club’s prized left fielder suffered a season-ending injury when he collided with Dexter Fowler back in April, tearing both his ACL and LCL and undergoing intensive knee surgery later that month.
While no nerve damage was discovered during the surgery, the Cubs have kept a close eye on Schwarber during his recovery and put a kibosh on any part-time or full-time role with the team until the spring of 2017. Getting a few reps in during the Arizona Fall League appears to be the last step in the 23-year-old’s rehab process. He will be part of the Mesa Solar Sox’ ‘taxi squad,’ making him eligible for games on Wednesdays and Saturdays only.
Schwarber batted .246/.355/.487 with 16 in 69 games with the Cubs during his debut season in 2015. He will be added to the Mesa Solar Sox roster in advance of their set against the Salt River Rafters on Saturday evening.