Kyle Schwarber played in just two regular-season games in 2016 before blowing out his knee. Aside from those two April outings, he essentially didn’t play in the majors for an entire calendar year – from Oct. 21, 2015, to Oct. 25, 2016.
Didn’t matter. Schwarber returned for the World Series against Cleveland and hit .412 with a .500 OBP, one double, two RBIs and two runs scored. If not for him, there’s a good chance the Cubs don’t win the World Series or end a curse that dated back to 1908.
“I think the good part about this whole experience for me was being able to stay in Chicago,” Schwarber said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “If I was down in Arizona, I don’t think that I would have been held accountable by my teammates. You’re connected. You live vicariously through these guys. They made sure I came ready to go everyday. There was the good days, there was the bad days. I know a lot of people go through a lot worse stuff than what I went through, but that was a big hurdle for me to go over in my young career.”
Schwarber, 23, experienced a lot of self-doubt during his recovery.
“There was times where I’m like, ‘Am I ever really going to have my knee back?’” he said. “I just had a big blow-out in my knee: the ACLs, the meniscus came with it. I couldn’t walk for six weeks. I’m on the crutches. Once I got toward five weeks, I start doing underwater stuff, where I’m limping like an old man underwater. There’s times where you’re on the crutches, you’re going down the hill, then all of a sudden you slip, you fall and you’re like, ‘There it goes again. I need another surgery.’ But it was tough. I was confined to a chair. Whenever the team went on the road, I’d pretty much be in my recliner 20 out of the 24 hours out of the day.”
Schwarber’s parents, sisters and girlfriend took turns taking care of him.
“You need someone,” he said. “You can’t go to the bathroom by yourself.”
Schwarber hopes to put the experience completely behind him in 2017. The Cubs open the season in St. Louis on April 3.