Kyle Schwarber brings his postseason act to the Red Sox

BOSTON – Before Red Sox first baseman Kyle Schwarber solidified his status as a big game player, he was just a high school student tryin...

BOSTON – Before Red Sox first baseman Kyle Schwarber solidified his status as a big game player, he was just a high school student trying to impress a visiting college coach.

It was 2011, and Schwarber, a Middletown High School star in Ohio, knew full well that then Indiana University head coach Tracy Smith was there when he landed three homers in a game. . Seeing how calm the young player was under pressure, Smith was quick to make him an offer.

“Great players do great things,” said Smith. “They are seizing these opportune moments.”

Schwarber’s talent for measuring up followed him through college and then into the majors. Smith remembers Schwarber’s home run in the Big Ten championship game in 2014, and his World Series performance in 2016, when he hit 0.412 after quickly recovering from severe knee injuries, winning as the one of Chicago’s North Side curse-breaking heroes.

On Sunday, Schwarber was back to his old tricks, this time for the Red Sox, recording three hits, including a first home run, in Boston’s crazy 6-4 victory against the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 3 of their American League Division Series. With the Red Sox beating the Rays in Game 4 on Monday, he will soon make his American League Championship Series debut.

Schwarber, 28, was hitting .305 with a .412 based percentage and eight homers in 28 career playoff games on Monday, most of them with the Cubs. In 2016, he and a core including Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Javy Baez won the organization’s first championship since 1908. But that core never won another ring, and Chicago spent the last year disbanding the group. Bryant went to San Francisco before the trade deadline, Rizzo to the Yankees and Baez to the Mets.

Schwarber, who was not tendered in December after a difficult year for Chicago, was the first of the group to leave. “He was very grateful to have spent time with the Cubs,” said Schwarber’s father, Greg. “He honestly believed he would still be with the Cubs.”

Instead, Schwarber spent the first half of the 2021 season with the Washington Nationals after signing a one-year contract in January. He thrived for Washington, hitting 16 home runs in 18 games from June 12-29. A hamstring injury and a clearance sale of star players ended his tenure at the Nationals soon after.

Boston acquired the injured slugger on July 29. He finally entered the field for the Red Sox on Aug. 13 and managed to hit .291 with seven homers and 18 RBIs in 41 regular-season games. From Aug. 13 to the end of the regular season, his .957 based plus shots percentage was the 13th best in majors among players with at least 150 home plate appearances, just ahead of Giancarlo Stanton of the Yankees.

Drafted fourth overall by the Cubs in 2014, Schwarber hadn’t known any other organization until this season and had to adjust to a life on the move – a situation exacerbated by his free agency eligibility this offseason. if he and the Red Sox do not exercise a mutual contract option.

“It is what it is,” said Schwarber. “It’s just part of the game. It’s the business side. There aren’t a lot of guys in an organization that you see staying their entire careers. When you see that, it’s very special. I was fortunate to be in a winning organization with the Cubs where we went to the playoffs five out of six times.

From his short stint in Washington, he lamented that the team did not perform to the height of their abilities.

“We were really good on paper, and the injuries kept piling up on us,” he said. “And the trade happens, and you get into a really good situation where you’re pushing for a playoff race here. It’s all you want as a baseball player, just to be in that kind of atmosphere and that situation.

Schwarber reflected on his change year ahead of Game 3 on Sunday, which Boston won in 13 innings. In addition to his stellar strikes, Schwarber, often a social media darling, delivered a self-deprecating viral climax celebrating with enthusiasm his execution of a routine sneaky throw to first base. He had botched a similar room before.

After amassing a walk and a run in Monday’s deciding fourth game, he heads to the LCS for the player and the team.

Schwarber, who also had a home run against Yankees ace Gerrit Cole in the AL Jokers game, is 6-for-19 in what he hopes will be the early stages of his early days. playoffs with the Red Sox. His uniform has changed, but Schwarber thrives under pressure.

“There are some people who escalate at times like this. He always has been, ”said Fred Nori, longtime coach and friend of Schwarber from Middletown. “As to the causes of all of this, if anyone can figure it out, that would be interesting. There are just some guys who do. He always has.

Nori and others felt that Schwarber’s football background – he played linebacker in high school – helped develop his flair for drama. “He was just cool with it,” said Nori, who referred Schwarber to Smith. Smith mentioned a “mixture of humility and confidence”. Schwarber’s most recent manager, Alex Cora, credited the Cubs development system.

“It seems like this Chicago group, all of these kids, understand what it takes to be a winner,” Cora said.

“One thing with him – and I think it’s more about Fenway, Boston, the passion – he performed in an atmosphere very similar to Chicago,” Cora continued. “With him it’s not that different.”

Schwarber attributes his playoff success to an abundance of opportunities.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to be on some really good teams in college and in the minor leagues and early in the major leagues,” he said. “I had the opportunity to experience the wild card and participate in an NLCS my first year. Then I went on to win a World Series in year two, another NLCS my third year. You can rely on experience when you are into great things like this.

Third baseman Rafael Devers and Cora praised Schwarber’s clubhouse presence in the playoffs, with Cora noting his influence on rookie first baseman Bobby Dalbec. “He feels like he’s been here for 10 years,” Cora said.

While Schwarber’s status with the Red Sox will remain on hold until the start of the offseason, he intends to familiarize himself after a turbulent year. He and his wife, Paige, are building a house near Middletown, Ohio, and Schwarber and his father are looking to revive expensive business youth baseball in a once booming steel town that is “struggling to find its identity.” , Greg says Schwarber.

“I love my hometown. It’s part of who I am today, ”added Kyle Schwarber, whose three sisters also live nearby. “It’s a really special place.

“It will be nice to be back home.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Kyle Schwarber brings his postseason act to the Red Sox
Kyle Schwarber brings his postseason act to the Red Sox
Newsrust - US Top News
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