How do you pitch to Kyle Schwarber with the bases loaded? That’s easy: you don’t. At least that’s what Chattanooga Lookouts’ manager Doug Mientkiewicz chose to do (or is it not do?). With the score tied at 3 in the 4th inning of Monday night’s game, Albert Almora walked to load the bases and bring his out-of-place teammate to the dish.
I didn’t see the game and the Gameday feature doesn’t show pitch location, so I suppose I’m just inferring here, but it sure looks as though Mientkiewicz had starter David Hurlbut issue an unintentional intentional walk. You know, the kind where the pitcher isn’t trying to put a ball anywhere near the zone.
Maybe the skipper was daydreaming about his prized baseball from the final out of the 2004 season, the one that officially ended the Curse of the Bambino. Or maybe he knew full well that limiting a guy who’s been looking quite Ruthian in the minors to a single RBI in that situation was a case of discretion being the better part of valor.
In a way, it kind of worked. The Smokies got a free run, but Schwarber was picked off of first by Lookouts catcher Stuart Turner to end the inning. It should be noted that the snap throw immediately followed a coaching visit to the mound.
Then again, the Smokies would go on to score 9 more runs in the subsequent innings to seal up a 13-3 victory, so even if walking the lefty slugger was the right call we’ll never really know. What we do know is that Kyle Schwarber has no earthly business being confined to the AA level. Sure, his defense needs work, but it’s more than evident that the bat plays.
I’m disappointed in a way, since it’s all but assured that he will be playing elsewhere when my son and I make a road trip to see the Smokies in early July. But I’m also proud of the kid who already accomplished quite a feat in college by making IU baseball relevant. Now he’s proving that the Cubs were smart to select him 4th overall in last year’s draft.
So far though, he’s only played DH and catcher in AA and we know he won’t be playing either of those roles for this Cubs team in 2015. An imminent promotion would likely be signaled by him getting some reps in LF, so be on the lookout for that; until then, I guess we can all just sit back and watch the ways opposing teams simply try to limit the damage Schwarber can inflict on them.