The Rundown: Schwarber’s Dirty Diaper, Bryant on Playing with Harper Again, Pinch Me

It was evident after continued struggles that something with Kyle Schwarber needed to change. And though many had already been talking about how he’d soiled his trousers in a metaphorical sense, Joe Maddon done went and ratcheted things up a bit prior to Monday’s win.

“When it’s your baby, you react to that child much differently,” Maddon told Carrie Muskat and other members of the media. “You have to clean the dirty diaper. There’s an entire difference between me holding your baby or me holding my own. Me hitting him seventh was my baby, and they’re not going to feel what I felt during the course of the game, but man, did I screw that up.

“I think parenthood plays a lot into whether you hit somebody seventh or ninth. Even grandparenthood has something to do with that.”

Yeah, so that’s…huh. Like, this gives new meaning to Schwarber going boom-boom Saturday afternoon. Now I’ve got this image of Maddon cradling his burly left fielder over his shoulder and burping him. Which isn’t a pretty sight. Neither was Schwarber’s two-strikeout performance Monday night, which followed games with a grand slam and a trio of walks.

I’m at a loss to explain it at this point, so I’m not going to try. It just looks as though Schwarber’s up there guessing at times, just hoping to run into a mistake. Maybe we just hope for a nice run of mistakes from opposing pitchers.

Bryant on playing with Harper

Peter Gammons dropped something of a bombshell Friday morning when he shared with Mully and Hanley that he’s heard Bryce Harper would prefer to play for the Cubs. Gammons went on to say that he doesn’t think it’ll happen, but the thought is too titillating not to indulge just a bit. And we’re not alone in discussing it.

“I think we might have talked about it, just like messing around,” Bryant told Patrick Mooney Monday. “Like, it would be cool to play with you again.”

This is an angle I’d actually been considering prior to Bryant even giving it (not very serious) voice, the idea of superstars getting together like we’ve seen in the NBA. Not only do Bryant and Harper share a hometown, they’ve also got the same representation. But, famous for his desire and ability to score huge deals for his clients, Scott Boras isn’t exactly the ideal candidate when it comes to negotiating discount deals.

And this is all coming on the heels of additional reports that Bryant rebuffed the Cubs’ offseason extension overtures, a story we explored a while back. Of course he’s unwilling to talk turkey right now, primarily because of Harper and others of their elite ilk whose rookie deals will be running out over the next couple seasons. Even with the massive TV rights bubble possibly bursting, the guys at the top of the heap are going to be cashing some fatty-boom-batty checks.

But what if…nah, it’s too far-fetched to even consider. And yet, hmmm. What if talk of combining their MVP forces is tempting enough to get the two Las Vegans to take below-market contracts in order to make it tenable for the Cubs in terms of the luxury tax threshold? Crazy, right?

When you get down to it, this actually strikes me as Boras — indirectly, of course — maybe floating some thoughts and chumming the water to get other teams to pony up big-time for Harper’s services. As if his talent alone isn’t enough to command top dollar, the idea that they’ll have to pay a premium to lure him away from his preferred team could add a little to the offers.

This is all too much conjecture — masturbatory excogitation, really — to produce anything in the way of meaningful dialogue, but the bottom line is this: If you can pair Bryce Harper with Kris Bryant, you do it. No questions asked, outfield logjam be damned. Realistic or no, it’s fun to dream about.

Pinch me

Albert Almora Jr. got a rare start in Monday’s game, something I’ve been clamoring for over the last week and change. He followed through by coming up big with a home run and a swinging-bunt infield single that helped the Cubs to a 3-1 lead.

However, it’s what Almora and his fellow centerfielder, Jon Jay, have done off the bench that fascinated me prior to the game. We’ve heard all about the Cubs’ struggles with runners in scoring position, but the same can’t be said for their substitute hitters. Bad with RISP, good in a pinch.

The Cubs have 28 pinch hits, second most in the majors (LAD, 29) and are batting .322 in those situations. Jay leads baseball with nine pinch hits (.928 OPS) and Almora is third with six (.929 OPS), which is pretty cool. Maybe they shouldn’t be starting after all.

More news and notes

  • The Cubs placed Wade Davis on paternity leave and recalled Dylan Floro to take his place on the roster.
  • Japanese phenom Shohei Otani has appeared in only eight games this season, all at DH, and will be out until at least July with a hamstring injury.
  • Victor Caratini (C) and Duncan Robinson (RHP) were named the Cubs’ player and pitcher of the month for May.
  • The Cubs are technically in first place in the NL Central after they won and Milwaukee lost Monday; the standings say they’re tied, but the Cubs’ winning percentage is one one-hundredth of a point higher.
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