Kyle Schwarber was anxious to get his 2021 campaign going after he ended up on the COVID-IL at the start of the season, his first with a team other than the Chicago Cubs.
Schwarber waited for two weeks to play his first game with the Washington Nationals, who signed him to a 1-year/$10M free agent deal this winter, after he was non-tendered by the Cubs.
“It’s definitely not ideal, but we’re happy to be back,” Schwarber told reporters in a pregame Zoom call on Monday afternoon, after he was cleared to play and joined his new team.
“This has been — it’s never ideal when you’re missing games. It is what it is. And we’re here now, we’re happy to be here, and just happy to contribute. It’s game on. It’s our opening day today. The butterflies are going, and I’m ready to go.”
Schwarber went 2 for 5 with a double and an RBI in his ‘21 debut. The two hits came in his third and fourth of five trips to the plate.
“The first two I felt like the ball was going to come in really, really hard, and it didn’t,” the 28-year-old, seven-year veteran said after the game. “So, I had to really slow it down, and I was just really excited to be out there playing with the boys, and it was just a matter of calming myself down and not trying to do way too much, and just know that you’ve got to trust yourself and make your decision from there.”
Getting a look at his new team at full strength, he said, he was impressed.
Josh Bell returned on Monday night too, as did Josh Harrison, and the lineup produced in their second win in seven games to that point.
“Having those guys,” Schwarber said, “... when we came up with guys in scoring position, I felt like we did a really good job. I mean, it was a great job getting guys in, and had great at bats.”
“I felt like a lot of guys had great at bats the whole night, working deep counts and making that guy grind out there. That’s contagious.
“Making that pitcher grind, and if you get a 5-6-7-pitch at bat, you move it on to the next guy and you might get that mistake.”
“When things start clicking they start feeding off of one another,” manager Davey Martinez said after filling out his lineup with his expected everyday regulars for the first time.
“One guys gets on, the next guys wants to get on, the next guy wants to drive him in and it keeps going on and on and on.”
Schwarber connected for two more hits, including another double, in the Nationals’ 14-3 loss in the second of three with the Cardinals last night, so he’s 4 for 9 with two two-base hits in two games.
He’s back in the lineup today for the series finale, as the visitors try to win their first series this season.
HERE’S THE NATIONALS’ LINEUP FOR THE FINALE WITH THE CARDINALS:
NOTES: You might notice that Davey Martinez switched things up at the top today, though he did say it’s not in reaction to anything he’s seen from Victor Robles, and he will put the center back in the leadoff spot going forward.
“We moved Trea [Turner] to leadoff today,” Martinez explained. “[Juan] Soto is going to bat second. [Ryan Zimmerman] is in there. We’re going to give Josh Bell the day with the quick turnaround. So put Robles ninth. We talked about this in Spring Training, that some days I’d like to try this, and I thought today was the perfect day for it.”