It’s been a tough start to the 2013 season for Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista. He missed a few games in the first week with an ankle sprain, and missed the entirety of his team’s recently-completed four-game series against the White Sox due to back spasms.
Much to the delight of Jays fans, Bautista is back in the starting lineup for tonight’s series opener against the Yankees, batting third as the designated hitter. Though the slugger has three home runs to his credit, he is hitting a paltry .200 with no multi-hit games thus far.
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.