Schwarber back at Chase, site of '16 collision

'[The brace is] a constant reminder every day,' he says of knee injury

Schwarber back at Chase, site of '16 collision

PHOENIX -- Friday is the first time the Cubs' Kyle Schwarber was back at Chase Field since he tore two ligaments in his left knee in a freak collision in the third game of the 2016 season.

"Any ball hit out to left center, I'm just going to sit down," Schwarber jokingly said.

He was starting in left field and was injured in a collision with center fielder Dexter Fowler as both chased a ball in the left-center gap. Schwarber was lost for the season, but made a miraculous comeback to be the designated hitter in the World Series for the Cubs. That incident at Chase Field is not one Schwarber wants to remember.

"[It's] the only reason I'm wearing this dang knee brace," Schwarber said. "[The brace is] a constant reminder every day."

He didn't mark his calendar for the Cubs' return to Arizona.

"It's not any different than just coming to the ballpark any other day," he said. "It's not like I'm going to go out there and cry. What happened happened, but it's not going to affect how I play.

"I'm sure there will be thoughts running, but I'm not too worried about it."

Cubs manager Joe Maddon had forgotten the incident happened at Chase Field until he was reminded.

"That's hopefully a fluke accident that you'll never see again," Maddon said. "It happened to happen here. ... He just needs to know where the center fielder is at all times -- or does the center fielder need to know where he is at all times?"

Schwarber went on to homer Friday night in the Cubs' 8-3 win over the D-backs.

Schwarber's solo home run

Worth noting

• With Willson Contreras out a minimum of four weeks with a right hamstring injury, how will Maddon assign the playing time between catchers Alex Avila and rookie Victor Caratini?

"I don't know," Maddon said Friday. "My thought is to be open minded about it. Let's play out the weekend, and moving into next week, just keep an open mind. I don't think it's wise to nail it down one way or the other. ... Let's just see how they look like in a game situation and try to make our best case."

Contreras exits game early

Contreras had taken over as Jon Lester's regular catcher but Maddon wasn't sure if Avila, a veteran, would take over that job. The problem on Saturday is the Cubs will face Arizona lefty Patrick Corbin, and Avila is a left-handed hitter.

One thing that is certain is Avila, acquired at the Trade Deadline from the Tigers, is ready for more work.

"He's fine -- he's ready to go," Maddon said. "He's done it before. He has no issues."

Addison Russell, placed on the 10-day disabled list one week ago with a right foot strain, did some work in the batting cage on Friday and light running. Russell stayed in Chicago to do his rehab and there is no time table for his return.

"It's moving along but we don't have a finish line in sight," Maddon said of the shortstop's rehab.

• Reliever Koji Uehara continued to get treatment on Friday for a neck strain. There is no timetable for his return.

"The thing I want to impress upon him is how important he is to us," Maddon said. "When you're dealing with a veteran player like him, I do a lot of listening and not talking."

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