Mets-Cubs preview

BY foxsports • July 20, 2016

CHICAGO -- A player sidelined for the season and rehabbing a wrecked knee is nonetheless drawing a surprising amount of interest as the major league trading deadline approaches.

Kyle Schwarber, the Chicago Cubs' 23-year-old slugger, is the subject of trade rumors and conjecture even though he has not stepped up to home plate and swung a bat since April 7.

One rumor with traction on social media has the New York Yankees offering relievers Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman, who unleashed a 105 mph fastball on Monday, in exchange for Schwarber, who had 16 homers in 69 regular-season and playoff games in 2015.

One former general manager suggested the Cubs swap Schwarber for Texas Rangers ace Cole Hamels, who beat the Cubs in a 4-1 decision on Sunday.

Chicago, which concludes a three-game series with the New York Mets on Wednesday at Wrigley Field, may indeed need some relief or starting pitching help down the stretch.

But there's no current evidence that Schwarber is part of any trade talks and Cubs officials reportedly have no desire to part with their versatile young catcher/outfielder.

In fact, Cubs manager Joe Maddon said he has had no conversations with any players about potential trades.

"It's always tough -- the rumor mill," Maddon said this week. "If I feel it's really getting hot with one guy, we'll say something to him. But I'll only say something to him to him if I know exactly what I'm saying.

"No conversations yet."

Schwarber suffered the a season-ending injury in early April in an outfield collision with teammate Dexter Fowler. Schwarber had a torn ACL and an LCL in his left knee plus a left ankle sprain.

The Cubs have made a point to keep Schwarber around and involved as he rehabs. He takes part in meetings, is in the dugout and got a big hand when he snared a foul ball in the dugout this week.

"I like the fact that he comes out, he's staying involved," Maddon said. "He's in the greeting line every time we win. It's very important to have him stay connected like that for next year and the guys love having him around."

Schwarber was the subject of a humorous video on the Wrigley Field board as the Cubs uncovered a 2015 video of Schwarber performing in a high school choir.

Several current teammates donned gray suits, purple shirts and pink ties -- similar to what Schwarber wore -- and were spliced into the video and danced along with the high school Schwarber.

The Cubs send RHP Kyle Hendricks (8-6, 2.41 ERA) against Mets right-hander Bartolo Colon (8-4, 3.11) in Wednesday's series finale.

Hendricks is 2-0 with a 0.69 ERA in two career regular-season starts against the Mets, both at Citi Field. He started Game 3 of the NLCS last season at Wrigley Field, allowing two runs and five hits in four innings.

Colon beat the Cubs for his seventh victory of the season on July 3, throwing six innings while allowing two runs and four hits. He struck out five and walked three.

Michael Conforto, called up Monday from Triple-A Las Vegas, was in the starting lineup on Tuesday in left field, but Mets manager Terry Collins said this week that he'll likely see time in center as Yoenis Cespedes moves over to left field after playing 61 games in the middle this season.

"We're taxing his body pretty heavily by putting him in center field," Collins told reporters. "I just think if he's in left field where he's comfortable, and there's not so much emphasis on the defensive side, that he'll go back and do what we hope he can do -- and that's be a big production guy."

Conforto played 56 games in left during an earlier stint with the Mets before being sent down to Triple-A Las Vegas.

Wednesday afternoon's game concludes the seven-game regular-season series between the teams. The Cubs swept all seven meetings last year. The Mets took four straight in New York in the first 2016 meetings.

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