Schwarber to skip winter ball, continue rehab

Schwarber to skip winter ball, continue rehab

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- Kyle Schwarber, who made a miraculous recovery from a severe knee injury suffered in the third game of the regular season to play in the World Series, will continue to rehab but not play in winter ball, Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said Monday.

Schwarber tore two ligaments in his left knee in early April, and was able to be the designated hitter for the Cubs in the World Series, going 7-for-17 (.412) with two RBIs against the Indians.

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"We felt he proved he could hit Major League pitching," Hoyer said.

However, whether Schwarber will catch again has yet to be decided.

"That's the hurdle we haven't gone over yet," Hoyer said. "Can he do it? There's no question he's going to want to do it and think he can do it. We'll have to have discussions about how heavy a workload we put on him."

Last year, Schwarber worked with the catchers and the outfielders in Spring Training, and injured his knee in a freak collision with Dexter Fowler while playing the outfield in April.

"It's basically like playing two ways in football in a way," Hoyer said of the drills involved. "We know what his position is going to be. I know he'll want to catch. He knows he's coming in as a left fielder next year and we have to decide how much of the catching drills we'll do."

Heyward to rehab swing

Jason Heyward, who batted .230 in the first season of his eight-year, $184 million contract with the Cubs, will be rehabbing his swing. Heyward has bought a house in Arizona, Hoyer said, and will work with Chicago hitting coach John Mallee and assistant hitting coach Eric Hinske at the Cubs' complex in Mesa, Ariz.

"You're not re-inventing him but getting him back to some of the places where he had the most success," Hoyer said of Heyward, who batted .293 in 2015. "That's what [Cubs fans] know of him, the one year [in 2016], but if you look back at his career, he's has some really good offensive seasons. We want to tweak his mechanics to the times when he had success -- 27 homers in 2012 -- and get him back to those places. We're not asking him to do new things but go back to doing things he did well. He's totally bought in and excited to get started."

Hoyer said Heyward was receptive to the offseason work and credited the outfielder for not hiding during a rough first season with the Cubs.

"He never asked out of the lineup, he helped the team defensively and on the bases and did the little things well," Hoyer said. "Obviously, he wanted to do better offensively. I think it's hard in-season to make significant changes. We needed the offseason to do that."

Heyward, 27, definitely didn't let his struggles at the plate affect his play in the field, winning his fourth Gold Glove Award.

Ross could join front office

David Ross could be back with the Cubs but in a new role as a special assistant to the general manager.

"There's definitely interest on our part," Hoyer said. "It would be a shame if he wasn't [back]. No one has a better feel for what tweaks we'll need in the clubhouse or what's going on than he will. Having him around the next few years, he's really valuable.

"It's so rare to have a guy who has that kind of feel for our clubhouse," Hoyer said. "How do you not want that guy around?"

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. 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.