A nail in the tire of his car saved Frank Schwindell from making an unnecessary trip to Iowa.
Schwindell arrived at Wrigley Field on Sunday and began breaking loose before the Chicago Cubs’ 7-1 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers when he received news that he had been selected for Triple A. The Cubs hoped the move would allow 30-year-old Schwindell. Locked in and retrieved what made him a success during the two stellar months to close last season.
Schwindell will make the six-hour drive Sunday to join the Iowa Cubs in Des Moines. However, he did find a nail in his tire on his way to Wrigley for Sunday’s game. The auto shop he had planned to use wasn’t taking any further appointments for the day and all other options were closed, so Schwindell thought he’d get the tires fixed on Monday morning and then drive to Des Moines. Will do
Instead, he got a call late on Sunday that the Cubs had called him back for their West Coast trip. a cubs fan Schwindell as seen on Monday morning flight to San Diego. Others recognized him at the airport, prompting one to tell Schwindell, “I hope you’ll be back there soon.”
“It was a lot of fun,” Schwindell said at Petco Park on Monday. “I took some selfies. I told him: ‘Don’t say anything, I’m playing tonight.’ … the 24 hours have gone crazy.”
Schwindell started at first base and finished fifth against the Padres. He hasn’t lost his last minor-league substitute as he hasn’t spent a minimum of 20 days in the minors this season.
The Cubs were able to bring him back immediately without a minimum stint in the minors as he replaced right-hander David Robertson, who went on the injured list without distinction. Players can move to IL in situations where it is related to COVID-19. Right-hander Marcus Strowman suffered a bruise from Sunday’s scheduled start and was placed on the IL for no reason.
The Cubs also selected right-hander Adrian Sampson for Triple A and contracted left-hander Conor Menez. Right-hander Mark Leiter Jr., infielder Eldemro Vargas and catcher PJ Higgins are in the taxi squad and with the team in San Diego.
Schwindell admitted he wasn’t thrilled about being selected, but understood why the Cubs did it.
“I mean, it makes sense,” he said. “I’m not playing what anyone else expects. But it happens. Even for the best hitters, it’s part of the game, grinding through tough times and getting on track. Come back and do the things I’m good at and just go from there.
“But it’s just another chance to prove itself.”
After losing time in spring training due to a back tightness, Schwindell struggled to keep going. He had a .209/.250/.308 slash line entering Monday with 62 OPS+, five extra-base hits, 21 strikeouts and five walks. His strike rate was about 7% higher than last year while his walk rate declined by 1.5%.
“He’s played almost every game, and hitting the middle of our lineup, he knows what he’s capable of and we know what he’s capable of,” manager David Ross said on Monday. “We have a lot of trust and confidence in them. The fact that we were going to send him down (in the long term) for his betterment, maybe not as much as we. ,
Three metrics highlight Schwindel’s struggles and the contrast that made him so dominant last year: strike-to-walk rate, slugging numbers against fastball, and hard-hit contact.
“I think for me, it feels like a good game to take a deep breath and let it go from there,” Schwindell said. “I had some good swings recently, not so much luck with it. But I think I’ve been getting better in the last few games, at least in spirit. ,
Schwindel was known last year for his ability to play the ball and limit strikeouts. He racked up hits and made a lot of contacts in the zone (87.8% contact rate). Through 25 games this season, Schwindel’s in-zone contact rate had dropped to 82.8%.
When he was putting the ball into play, his hard-hit percentage had dropped to 12.2% from the previous year. Despite seeing slightly higher pitches per plate attendance, his strike-to-walk ratio increased from 2.25 to 4.20 in 2021.
He’s not even feasting on fastball anymore. He hit .338 in 2021 versus fastball with a .685 slugging percentage, including his 13 home runs and 11 runs from 10 doubles. Schwindel is seeing a similar percentage of fastballs this season, but not doing damage. He owns a .244 average and .333 slugging percentage, compared with fastball 27.6% of the time.
All those shortcomings have contributed to Schwindell’s offensive crisis.
“It’s just coming back to not miss my pitches and swing on strike in the zone,” he said, “which I do instead of trying to chase down hits and let the pitches come to me.” Got away with trying to do it, but it’s all part of the learning process.
“What comes first, hit or confidence? That’s a tough question to answer. It’s hard to take a step back and try not to chase a hit, chase pitches outside the zone and try to get a guy in .
Schwindell might give the Cubs something to think about if he starts going on the track while Strowman and Robertson are sidelined. There may not be enough time for the organization to change its mind about the big-picture benefits of having him bat in a low-stress environment.
Ross did not want to predict what would happen to Schwindell when future roster decisions were made.
“Sometimes these little moments and how things work is just funny,” Ross said. “He can take us for next week and he’s not going anywhere. … I know one thing about Frank, he’s going to give his best in everything we ask him to do “