Cubs’ Schwarber has no illusions about major role as catcher

MESA, Ariz. – Kyle Schwarber wants to make one thing clear about his own intentions with this whole catching thing: He’s preparing to be an emergency, third catcher – not trying to fill any role bigger than that.

“Exactly,” he said. “With the National League-style ballgame and how we always preach versatility, it’s just a good way to make sure that you’re always ready for something.

“You know how [manager] Joe [Maddon] likes to move some pieces around during a game. I’ve got to be ready any time to come out from left and go back to catcher and give our two guys a blow one day. It’s going to be a limited role, obviously.”

Speculation about Schwarber’s catching role has included some inflated expectations as he comes to camp at full strength since his April reconstructive knee surgery.

Kyle Schwarber

Kyle Schwarber

Team officials consider him a left fielder, possible leadoff hitter and occasional – very occasional – catcher. His first bullpen session of the spring, Friday, was brief, and the plan this spring calls for catching work only once or twice a week.

The emphasis, they say, is on keeping him healthy and keeping his potent bat in the lineup.

And Schwarber’s on the same page.

Drawing attention during Friday’s session was the fact Schwarber caught Tony Pena-style, with his surgically repaired left leg extended to the side – how he plans to catch when he gets in a game this year.

“Everyone thinks it’s a new style, but I did it last spring training,” he said, “with my left knee down and right leg out. So I’m just switching it to my right knee down, left leg out, just for the knee purposes.

“That’ll be my stance when nobody’s on base. And when somebody does get on base, I get back to a crouch.”