Rivera among Cubs watching Hurricane Maria

Rivera among Cubs watching Hurricane Maria

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Cubs' Javier Baez, Rene Rivera and Victor Caratini were checking their cell phones nonstop on Wednesday, hoping to get word from family and friends in Puerto Rico that they were OK after Hurricane Maria.

Baez said he last talked to his family early Wednesday and then all went quiet.

"Javy has no communication, Victor has no communication," Rivera said. "We're going by whatever we see on social media. It's not good. It's not like [Hurricane] Irma. This one is worse."

Rivera's wife and children and Caratini's fiancee are all in Chicago, but they have a lot of family in Puerto Rico who they're concerned about.

"There's nothing we can do," Rivera said. "The only thing we can do is pray all the families are safe. The houses will hold. The flooding is the scary part. With the flooding, there's nowhere you can go.

"We're hoping a cell phone signal comes back and we can get communication," Rivera said. "We'll see what happens."

Worth noting

Kyle Schwarber entered play Wednesday with 28 home runs, and could easily reach 30 this season, which would be quite an accomplishment considering how much time he missed in 2016 because of his knee injury.

"Since the All-Star break, you look at his numbers and they all have been much more positive," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of Schwarber, who was batting .250 in the second half after hitting .178 before the break. "You have to understand he's going to [hit home runs] and then he might strike out with a runner on third base. You have to accept both sides. You're playing for [the home run] based on his ability against that pitcher, knowing you're going to see the punchout, too. It's part of who he is now."

But Maddon sees Schwarber improving the batting average in the future.

"I do believe the more he plays, you'll see the strikeouts come down, a better adjustment when the count gets deeper," Maddon said. "He's trying to choke up. He's trying to do different things in counts right now. I'm seeing progress, too. He missed all of last season and I think we forget that sometimes."

• Reliever Hector Rondon, who has been battling inflammation in his right elbow, is getting close to returning.

"He could be a couple days away, too," Maddon said.

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.