MLB.com Columnist

Jim Callis

Schwarber shakes off rust in Fall League debut

Cubs slugger goes 0-3 with walk in first game action since April

Schwarber shakes off rust in Fall League debut

MESA, Ariz. -- For the first time since he tore up his left knee on April 7, Kyle Schwarber returned to the diamond Saturday night, as a member of the Arizona Fall League's Mesa Solar Sox. The next time he takes the field, it could be in the World Series.

Schwarber batted second and went 0-for-3 as the DH in a 7-2 loss to the Salt River Rafters, grounding out in his first two at-bats, drawing a walk and then driving a ball in the right-center field gap that seemed destined for extra bases until center fielder Noel Cuevas (Rockies) robbed him with a diving catch.

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Schwarber said he felt good at the plate, though he wouldn't speculate as to whether the Cubs might restore him to their roster for the World Series, which begins Tuesday. It's also possible that he could play in another AFL game Monday before the Fall Classic begins.

"I feel like I put in two good at-bats, the last couple," he said. "The first two, I chased a little bit. I was a little antsy up at the plate, as expected. Once it started getting back to being normal baseball again, it all started slowing down... Overall, that was a really plus day for me, feeling confident, so we'll see where this goes."

Maddon on Schwarber's health

Schwarber tore the anterior and lateral cruciate ligaments in his knee in an outfield collision with Dexter Fowler in his second game of the season. He's wearing a brace on the knee and ran conservatively during Saturday's game, though he said it felt fine afterward.

"I've been doing running every day," Schwarber said. "We're going to take it step-by-step. I've got full confidence in my knee. My knee doesn't bother me. It's probably my hands that hurt the worst. I have about eight blisters on them. I guess I should have done something better, like keep rubbing a bat when I was on the bench or something."

Until Monday, the expectation was that Schwarber would serve as a cheerleader in the postseason and get back on the field with the Cubs in Spring Training. Then he visited Dr. Dan Cooper, the Dallas Cowboys' orthopedic specialist who performed his surgery, and Cooper surprised him by giving him the go-ahead to return.

Callis on Schwarber in AFL

Schwarber spent two days in Los Angeles taking batting practice with the Cubs before flying to their Mesa training base on Wednesday. He worked on hitting and running for three days before playing in an AFL game.

"It was the best-case scenario that could have came out," Schwarber said, "and I'm doing my best."

While Schwarber was making his AFL debut, the Cubs were busy defeating the Dodgers for their first National League pennant since 1945. He said he monitored the game via an iPad the Solar Sox had in their dugout.

Schwarber celebrates Cubs' win

"Those guys deserve it," said Schwarber, the Cubs' all-time postseason home run leader with five. "I'm down here trying to get my work in and I'm going to join them up in Cleveland, it's either cheering or whatever it is, I'm all in for it."

Right-hander Michael Peoples (Indians) threw five shutout innings for the Solar Sox and left with a 1-0 lead before the Rafters rallied against the Mesa bullpen. Dylan Moore (Braves) tied the game with a solo homer in the seventh inning, and Isan Diaz's (Brewers' No. 8) two-run double sparked a six-run outburst in the eighth. With the win, Salt River stretched its Eastern Division lead over Mesa to 2 1/2 games.

Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.