PHOENIX -- The Chicago Cubs are hoping for the best when outfielder/catcher Kyle Schwarber goes in for an MRI on his left ankle and knee Friday, but even if it's good news he's more than likely going to miss time considering the team has already said he had a sprained ankle.
Who takes Schwarber's place in the lineup in either a short- or long-term situation?
Jorge Soler is the obvious choice in left field no matter how long Schwarber is out, but manager Joe Maddon indicated he still has options.
"Tommy La Stella can be impacted by that as well," Maddon said after Thursday's 14-6 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks. "There are different things you can do, offensively, defensively, where Kris Bryant can go into the outfield. That's part of the mix, too."
In fact, Bryant took over for Schwarber in left on Thursday, and La Stella entered the game at third base. Considering La Stella is a lefty and Soler is a righty, Maddon should have some platoon options, though it's doubtful he would go with a straight righty-lefty split. More than likely La Stella would play when the Cubs felt the matchup simply wasn't in Soler's favor.
If Schwarber goes on the disabled list, who takes his place on the roster?
The obvious choice would be Javier Baez, who can come off the disabled list as soon as Saturday. But Baez had a setback after being hit by a pitch earlier this week, and the Cubs say he needs more time. It remains to be seen if that's still the case considering Schwarber's injury, otherwise the door could be open for Munenori Kawasaki to be called up from Triple-A Iowa. With Matt Szczur already on the roster to help in the outfield and Maddon indicating he might use La Stella in a starting role, the Cubs could probably use another infielder. No one sent down at the end of spring training had a better camp than Kawasaki.
Maddon indicated he was waiting to hear from the front office about a replacement if one is needed.
"I like all these guys," Maddon said of his Triple-A group. "Whatever we decide to do, I'm in."
How does this affect the catching situation?
Schwarber was scheduled to catch Jason Hammel on Friday, so Miguel Montero or David Ross will need a quick refresher as it pertains to the right-hander. Schwarber caught Hammel all spring. With lefty Robbie Ray on the mound for Arizona, expect Ross to be behind the plate. Schwarber's injury shouldn't have much of an effect on the Cubs' catching situation as they'll just go with the more traditional two on the roster, with Ross catching Lester and playing against some lefties and Montero taking the rest of the workload.