Kyle Schwarber looks like you and me now. Well, at least you, provided you’re svelte and toned and on a diet that sticks its nose up in the air at fast food. Are you? I didn’t think so.
Anyway, the guy whose Babe Ruth resemblance extended to his tape-measure home runs and stocky build now looks more like someone who runs a hedge fund than the bases. He was at the Cubs Convention on Friday looking very dapper in a coat and tie, and I wanted to ask him if my portfolio had too much risk to it.
Thanks to diet and exercise, he has lost about 20 pounds. As much as the Cubs are gushing about his fitness for the 2018 season, it’s going to take some getting used to for those of us who equated his digging in at the plate to a tank parallel parking.
This is the Babe going on a no-beer, no-hot-dog diet, and I’m not sure I like it. Don’t misunderstand. It’s a good thing for Schwarber, and probably for the Cubs, that he has shed weight and added flexibility. But his 6-foot, 235-pound build was part of his legend. This is the circus strongman you wanted on your softball team, and this is the guy you wanted to buy a beer for afterward.
If you want to be a sourpuss, and I often do, you can wonder out loud if this means that Schwarber wasn’t in shape before. But baseball shape is a wide spectrum. Now he’s doing more agility and core workouts. Now there is a lot more salmon and a lot less pizza.
“It was more of a personal choice,’’ he said. “I want to be the best player I can be, and I think that it starts there. It’s not going to help me hit .500. You’ve just got to control things you can control. This is one thing I can control. People are making it out to be a big deal. This is just part of the job for me, just wanting to keep getting better.’’
Schwarber had a well-documented rough year in 2017, hitting .211 and, at one point, getting sent to Triple A. It would be difficult to assign those difficulties to his weight, seeing as how he had become a playoff cult hero in Chicago with that same physique.
Cubs president Theo Epstein said the Cubs planned to have a conversation with Schwarber about losing weight after last season but that the leftfielder approached the team about it first.
“We’ve talked about some of these things in the past – getting a little bit more flexible, getting in shape that will allow him to be a little bit more effective in the outfield,’’ Epstein said. “Sometimes it takes, as he said, a whole lifestyle change, and you can’t be forced into that. That has to come when you’re ready for it.
“He’s really put everything into this lifestyle change – the way he eats, the way he sleeps, the way he trains, the way he lives his life day to day. It’s the type of changes that can allow you to have a really long career and maximize your career. We’re happy for…