Schwarber's lefty work pays off vs. Kershaw

Schwarber's lefty work pays off vs. Kershaw

MESA, Ariz. -- Kyle Schwarber, hoping to convince the Cubs that he can handle left-handed pitching, singled twice off one of the best southpaws in the game, Clayton Kershaw.

"I definitely wanted to go in there [and face him] -- just like I do every time I step in the box -- and it was definitely a good opportunity to see one of the premier lefties in baseball," Schwarber said. "Just to see some of the pitches, because I didn't see him last year, definitely helped out."

Kershaw struck out five over three innings and scattered five hits, including Schwarber's pair of singles in Los Angeles' 7-3 win. The young Cubs slugger batted .143 against lefties last year, and .278 against right-handers. This season, Schwarber could find himself sharing left field with right-handed-hitting Jorge Soler.

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Schwarber and assistant hitting coach Eric Hinske have been working on some things in the batting cage.

"Me and him have worked on some things approach-wise and things like that," Schwarber said. "It's been all good stuff. I'm trying to learn every day."

• Cubs infielder Tommy La Stella was pulled from Monday's game as a precautionary move because of a strained right calf. La Stella said he felt tightness in his leg prior to the game and had hoped it would loosen up, but it didn't.

Manager Joe Maddon said if it was later in the season and there was something at stake, La Stella most likely would have played Tuesday.

"We don't anticipate it to be serious but he's not going to play now," Maddon said.

• Cubs hitting coach John Mallee has a significant bruise on his left forearm after being hit by a foul ball during Monday's game at Sloan Park. The Royals' Eric Hosmer fouled a pitch back toward the Cubs' dugout and it hit Mallee, who was sitting with the other coaches on the field.

"I thought it hit the wall," Maddon said. "When the ball hit him, and I thought it hit the cement or the concrete wall, it was that loud."

Mallee didn't want to leave but Maddon ordered him off the field.

"He comes walking off and his arm is already blowing up," Maddon said. "Nothing's broken but he'll be sore for a couple days. He's a tough guy, I understand that."

Outfielder Matt Szczur, sidelined with a strained oblique, is making progress. Outfielder Matt Murton, who needed to have his appendix removed, is increasing his activities each day.

• Cubs players never know what to expect during the morning stretch, and on Tuesday, strength coach Tim Buss appeared in a baggy uniform, wearing headphones and a backpack. He imitated Minor Leaguer Taylor Davis' swing, which is unique, and features a high leg kick.

Anthony Rizzo invited a disc jockey to handle the music for the stretch, and he was accompanied by guitarist Ed May Art, a friend of recently retired catcher John Baker, who is now working in the Cubs' baseball operations department.

"I said, 'Ed, if we have a great year, they'll have you back,'" Baker said of his friend, who was able to rent a guitar for the day.

"It's all about the camaraderie of the group and bringing people together," Maddon said of the variety of opening acts. "Tell me one thing that you've done in your life that you haven't had fun doing. I want our guys to have fun on a daily basis. We do.

"It's becoming a struggle, though," Maddon said. "The struggle is to come up with new ideas every day to entertain them. As you get farther along, it'll slow down a bit."

• Infielder Jesus Guzman reported late to camp because of visa problems, and spent time Tuesday working with Cubs coach Franklin Font. Guzman has yet to appear in a game.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.