MESA, AZ – It didn’t take long for the Cubs to allow Kyle Schwarber to get some work in behind the plate this spring, as the 23-year-old slugger was catching bullpens and working on blocking drills in Mesa this morning. Carrie Muskat of MLB.com provided a snapshot of the Ohio native in full gear working behind the plate this morning.
— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) February 17, 2017
Schwarber caught a bullpen session for veteran John Lackey, but his work behind the plate wasn’t his only noteworthy moment in camp thus far, he also tested out his surgically repaired knee with some base-running drills with no issue. Schwarber looks very strong thus far, sporting a solid linebacker frame, and minus the knee brace, that he will wear full-time, he has looked impressive all the way around spending time working in the outfield, catching, and working on base-running drills.
That’s good news for the Cubs who will rely heavily on Schwarber this season, with the slugger even being talked about as a potential candidate to assume the lead-off spot vacated by the departed Dexter Fowler this winter.
Lester Seen Working on Pick-Off Throws Early this Spring
Jon Lester, who was ridiculed on the national stage this fall for his refusal to throw the ball to first-base, allowing base-runners to steal almost at will, was seen in camp doing pick-off drills to first base during a pitcher fielding practice session on the backfields in Mesa with Cubs pitching coach Chris Bosio. Lester’s reluctance to make an attempt to pick a runner at first base off, or even keep the runner close most time has been well documented and scrutinized, but realistically, expecting him to change that at this point in his career is probably hoping for too much.
Willson Contreras Confident and Excited to be the Everyday Catcher
When speaking with the media Cubs’ catcher Willson Contreras expressed that he is more than ready to assume the full-time catcher’s role in 2017, and excited for the opportunity. As far as the task of working with Jon Lester in 2017, after Lester’s personal catcher David Ross retired this winter, Contreras doesn’t seemed phased by the task. Contreras said that the two worked together yesterday, and he felt pretty good abut the session that they had, and is looking forward to getting to know Lester well this spring.
Contreras also pointed out that the feeling in the clubhouse this spring for him personally, as opposed to last season is far greater, crediting his teammates for making him feel welcomed and important in the Cubs 2017 plans. Contreras related that the relaxed and “homey” feeling for him has boosted his confidence in his play tremendously, and the 24-year-old backstop is looking to have a big year in 2017.
Watch Cubs Spring Training Workouts on ESPN this Weekend
In other news, Cubs fans can get a look at the Cubs first full-squad workouts of the season this weekend, Jesse Rodgers of ESPN reported today that the network will carry live coverage of Cubs camp on both Saturday and Sunday morning this weekend.