CLEVELAND -- When Chicago Cubs outfielder Kyle Schwarber collided with center fielder Dexter Fowler while tracking a fly ball in an April game at Wrigley Field, he suffered what most felt would be a season-ending knee injury, but a funny thing happened on the path toward Spring Training in 2017.
Following surgery to repair the torn anterior cruciate and lateral collateral ligaments in his left knee, Schwarber relentlessly attacked his rigorous rehab and returned to the team in time to play in Game 1 of the World Series against the Cleveland Indians.
“If you know me as a person, that’s the kind of guy I am. I’m a baseball rat,” said Schwarber, a native of Middletown, Ohio. “I want to be involved in it as much as I can.
“A lot of things go to this team and this organization for allowing me to be around. They were a big rock in my rehab. I could have easily just gone to Arizona, gone through the motions in rehab, but these guys really made me kick it up a notch. I’m here mostly because of those guys.”
Relief pitcher Pedro Strop was one of those players who helped push Schwarber through intense rehab by saying soon after the injury occurred, “Man, you’re going to be back for the World Series.”
“The process was a long time,” Schwarber said. “At first, I didn’t think I was ever going to have a normal knee again. I had to do six weeks of just keeping it straight, no walking on it, no anything. Then, trying to get range of motion back after that, that was probably the toughest part for me mentally.
“You’re going to the field every day and trying to get your knee to bend, and it just won’t. It’s painful. You’re getting strapped down to a table, they’re pushing back on it. Then, after that, we got that range of motion back. It went to the strengthening portion of rehab where you want to try to get all your strength back in your knee, and then, in your quads, hammies, things like that.”
Now back from the rehabilitation process, Schwarber is focused on doing what is necessary to help the Cubs win three more games against the Indians and break a 108-year World Series drought.
As a designated hitter in Game 1, he collected one hit in three at-bats with one walk and two strikeouts. Then, he followed that up by going two for four with two RBI in a 5-1 win over the Indians in Game 2 at Progressive Field Wednesday night.
“Knowing that I had the opportunity to try and get back, it would kill me deep down inside if I didn’t,” Schwarber said. “I knew going into it there were no guarantees of ‘I’m going to come back and be on the World Series roster.’
“I didn’t do it for this reason. I didn’t want the media attention. I didn’t want any of that. I did it for my teammates. I did it for me too. That’s the competitor in me. Like I said, those guys, that’s a special clubhouse we’ve got, and that’s why I did it.”