CHICAGO (Reuters) – Inspirational Chicago Cubs slugger Kyle Schwarber has not been cleared to play in the outfield for Friday’s Game Three against the Cleveland Indians at Wrigley Field, the Major League Baseball team said on Thursday.
Schwarber, who has spent much of this year recovering from a knee injury he suffered in the third game of the season, sparked a Cubs revival in Wednesday’s Game Two with a pair of hits and two RBIs as Chicago squared the World Series at 1-1.
However, Cubs president Theo Epstein said the powerful left-hander has only been cleared to hit and run, and therefore is available once again to pinch-hit off the bench.
“Of course we’re all disappointed,” Epstein said. “We’d love to see him get 4-plus at-bats.”
Earlier on Thursday. Cubs manager Joe Maddon had said he was tempted to start Schwarber in Game Three, pending medical clearance.
“I’m going to talk to Theo shortly,” Maddon told reporters at Wrigley Field. “I don’t know exactly where it is medically yet.
“If you see him out there taking fly balls, that means we probably got the go-ahead to try it, otherwise it’s probably been put on hold.”
Hardly surprisingly, Schwarber’s clearance was put on hold soon after, though Cubs fans will be licking their lips at the prospect of further heroics from their designated hitter in Game Three.
The 23-year-old outfielder was injured on April 7 when he tore his ACL in his second game of the campaign, and yet against all the odds he has been able to flourish in this World Series despite expected rust due to his lack of at-bats.
“Five guys might have been able to pull off what he’s done, maybe even less than five,” Maddon said of Schwarber, who has collected three hits in the first two games against Cleveland “He’s an incredible young man.
“That’s the one thing I talked about the other day. Is he going to be jumpy at the plate? Is he going to be on his front foot a lot?
“Absolutely not. He’s been staying back, seeing the baseball extremely well. So it’s unusual, man. We’re very happy that it worked out that way.”
(Reporting by Larry Fine; Writing by Mark Lamport-Stokes; Editing by Frank Pingue)