Dan Haren likely to miss start with more back problems

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Back problems have plagued Dan Haren for much of the season. After taking a little break from the Angels’ rotation he turned in consecutive Quality Starts, but now a new back injury is expected to keep him from making his scheduled start tomorrow against the Rangers.

Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports that Haren “tweaked a muscle in the right side of his back” last week, which is different than the lower-back tightness that required a disabled list stint previously.

Either way Haren likely won’t face Texas and is once again a big question mark for the stretch run. He had a five-start stretch in which he allowed 27 runs in 27 innings and served up nine homers before finally admitting that the back problems were a big factor and if that’s a possibility again it doesn’t really help Haren or the Angels to keep trotting him out there.

Kyle Schwarber is “probably, arguably” in The Best Shape of His Life

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Joe Maddon just held his annual media availability here at the Winter Meetings. During the scrum he said that Kyle Schwarber “looked great the other day” at a Cubs community event and that . . . wait for it . . . “he’s in, probably, arguably in the best shape of his life.” Maddon went on to say that, if Schwarber looks good in spring training, he might even be the Cubs leadoff hitter in 2018.

Schwarber is only 24, but the former catcher turned outfielder is going to spend most of his career as a DH, with another team obviously, unless he shows the Cubs that he can be a regular defender. The Cubs would love to see him in better shape whether they keep him or shop him, and if it’s the latter, they’ll want to show potential trade partners that he can play defense so as not to limit his market. It’s in everyone’s interests for him to be lean, mean and a bit more flexible once spring training starts.

To that end, according to a recent report, Schwarber “has been on a mission this offseason to transform his body.” And now Maddon is playing up the BSOHL angle. Whether that’s salesmanship or not, all eyes are going to be on Schwarber come February.