‘There’s no bad days in the big leagues’: From hot streaks to slumps, Frank Schwindel keeps it all in perspective
Yes, Frank Schwindel sat in a middle seat on a flight from Chicago to San Diego.
And yes — like just about everybody else — he saw the Tweet about it.
In fact, Schwindel actually had a screenshot of the Tweet sent to him by friends while he was still on the plane and connected to WiFi.
The Cubs optioned Schwindel down to Triple-A Iowa on May 8 and as the team traveled to San Diego for the start of a West Coast road trip, he stayed behind. But a rash of injuries and illness brought him back as the Cubs needed healthy bodies in the majors, so he had to get to San Diego any way he could.
At the time, Schwindel was slashing .209/.250/.308 (.558 OPS).
David Ross immediately inserted Schwindel back into the starting lineup and the Cubs first baseman went 0-for-3 with 3 strikeouts during the series opener in San Diego. The next night, he came up with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 9th inning and hammered a ball to the left field wall, coming inches shy from a huge go-ahead grand slam.
He maintains nothing much has changed for him since the moment he was sent down on May 9. But his statline has certainly looked a lot different and a lot more like his 2021 breakout campaign.
Since the flyout to the warning track, Schwindel has put up a .286/.343/.541 slash line (.883 OPS) in 108 plate appearances.
He is not only playing every day during that span, but Schwindel actually leads the Cubs in hits (28) and RBI (20) since May 11.
“I think minor league coaching really helped him,” Jed Hoyer joked last week.
He has been tearing up Cardinals pitching this weekend at Wrigley Field. Entering play Sunday, Schwindel is 8-for-16 with 2 homers, a double, 3 walks, 5 RBI and 4 runs scored in the series.
“It’s a good lesson for all of us,” Hoyer said. “He was struggling. I think it was the right thing to do in that moment given where our roster was to send him out.
“But it goes to show you: Sometimes what appears to be is a slump. Guys go up and down. He probably worked on some things, fixed some things. But sometimes what you think might be mechanical is just the ups and downs of our sport.
“It’s great to have him back. He’s a breath of fresh air. He enjoys every day he has in the big leagues. It’s been fun to watch him catch fire.”
So what’s changed?
Schwindel never made excuses but part of the issue at the beginning of the season may have been attributed to a back injury that kept him out of action for a week in Spring Training. It was something he had to manage throughout the first few weeks of the regular season.
Now, he’s healthy and he believes the biggest key is simply not missing — or fouling off — the pitches he should be doing damage on.
It also helps that he has a cache of success to fall back on from when he won back-to-back National League Rookie of the Month Awards last season.
“I didn’t come in and expect to hit .350 again,” Schwindel said. “I hit some good pitchers. We’re facing the same guys plus some great arms last year as well. I know I can hit anybody. It’s just about stringing them together and building off that.”
Schwindel doesn’t necessarily consider the brief demotion to the minor leagues as a mental reset.
As a player who grinded in the minor leagues for 8 seasons before finally getting an extended opportunity in Chicago, he has a unique perspective on the game.
“The way I see it is there’s no bad days in the big leagues,” Schwindel said. “Obviously this was the goal to finally get here and now it’s to stay and produce.
“I wouldn’t trade these times for anything. Even the bad times — they’re a little tougher to deal with but it’s just another opportunity to show up and get better each day and have as much fun as I can.”