The Phillies newest outfielder, Kyle Schwarber, along with his new manager Joe Girardi, and Phillies President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski met with reporters Monday morning.
“It’s a very happy day for us as an organization, happy to have Kyle here with us and were very excited for some good things ahead,” Dombrowski said in his opening remarks.
It Was Always the Phillies
“First off, I can’t state how excited I am to be here. I’d like to thank the Middleton family for the opportunity to be here. Dave, the whole front office, thank you for believing in me and wanting me to be here. The whole Phillies organization- this is a true honor and I’m excited to help bring a World Series back to Philly,” Schwarber said shortly after putting on the red pinstripes for the first time.
“Looking at the ballclub, it’s just an exciting group of players, an exciting group of men- I’m excited to help try to get the best out of them and them to get the best out of me,” he continued.
When asked if the Phillies were his priority team, Schwarber affirmed that immediately.
“I would say so. Look, I’m in the business of winning baseball games and when you look at this team from top to bottom lineup-wise, look at the rotation, the bullpen, this team is a very good ballclub. We’re built to win the east we’re built to go deep into the playoffs. That’s what you look for. That’s what you want to be,” Schwarber said.
“I’ve only missed the playoffs one year, it’s an addicting feeling. You want to keep pushing to that and when you get that cherry on top which is a World Series, you strive for that every year so this was a place I was looking forward to being,” he continued.
Signing With the Phillies Was a Long Time Coming
The Phillies and Schwarber had spoken before the lockout began on December 2nd, according to the lefty slugger.
“We were obviously talking we were still feeling each other out, getting the interest for each other. There was definitely interest before the lockout and I’m happy we were happy to lock it down after,” he said.
After signing a one-year deal following being non-tendered by the Cubs, Schwarber is happy he bet on himself in 2021.
“I’ll be the first to tell you. 2020- there’s no excuses for that. It is what it is. I know it wasn’t a representation of me. I needed to go out there and prove to myself first and foremost that wasn’t the player I am. It doesn’t shock me. I know what I can bring on the field,” he said.
Phillies new hitting coach Kevin Long advocated for his new club to sign his star pupil.
“This is the guy, this is the guy,” Dombrowski said, imitating Long.
Connections with Nick Castellanos
Schwarber is familiar with the Phillies other new outfielder, Nick Castellanos. The two played together for a brief time when Castellanos was delt to Schwarber’s Cubs at the 2019 trade deadline.
“Talk about a guy that can find some barrels and plays the game with some passion. When you can add a play of his caliber into a lineup, it’s only going to make you better,” Schwarber said.
“He’s going to be a really good key piece to this team,” he said.
Schwarber is very excited to be hitting somewhere in the Phillies Lineup.
“It’s a deep lineup. We are going to have everything covered one through nine. The goal for us as an offense is to not let that pitcher breathe. We want him to feel comfortable at all. It starts with pitch one. it goes all the way if he goes out for 100 pitches. We want him to feel the pressure every single pitch. This lineup’s built to do that. It doesn’t have to be the top four, top five guys. It can be five through nine. We want them to feel uncomfortable the whole time, this lineup is definitely built to do that,” Schwarber said.
Schwarber is a very well-known leadoff hitter but his spot in the order doesn’t matter.
“I like hitting wherever, I like hitting period. Wherever I end up I end up. But I’m more than open to hitting leadoff, second, third, foruth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, whatever. I just want to hit and help the team hit,” he said.
Finding a Home in Philadelphia
Schwarber has moved around quite a bit the past few seasons, he is very happy he has landed in Philadelphia for the next four years.
“(I’m) very happy to, not many guys get to this position. It’s a great privilege to be here and to get to this position. To be a free agent and to be able to try to find a home for an extended amount of time. I don’t take the lightly. Obviously, there is a lot of hard work that gets put into it but there’s also a lot of great people that help you get to this position,” Schwarber said.
Adding to the Philles’ Lineup
Dombrowski made a lot of acquisitions this season and believes the Castellanos deal will become official in the coming days.
“You’re always looking to get better, there’s no perfect club out there. We’re happy where we are as a club. We do have another, hopefully, another announcement coming up soon in the next day or so. But it’s a situation that seems like everybody already knows about it but I’m not sure. But we do have to make that official. You’re always looking to bet better,” Dombroski said.
Dombrowski believes that there can still be some transactions on the horizon even with Spring Training well underway.
“It’s been an interesting time for baseball and for everybody in baseball it’s been so different. As soon as the lockout and agreement was settled- it’s only been ten days when you think about it. We were so prepared to move forward on so many different issues. For us there has been a real priority in trying to fill holes in our club that we needed to. Before that happened you forget we didn’t have a left fielder, we didn’t have a center fielder we didn’t have much of a bullpen. A lot of those things were addressed immeditely, and with that then becomes roster spots availablilty, but in that we also interacted with other clubs. They’ve now made their free agent signings, almost all of them. I think it will lead to continued trade conversations over the next time period. Will it lead to something, I don’t know, but sure we’ll look to get bettwe” Dombrowski said.
Shortly after he agreed to terms with the Phillies, Schwarber and his wife Paige welcomed their son into the world. Leaving little time to celebrate their new home.
“I might have gotten a sip of something but it was time to go. Luckily I didn’t so I can drive here there. But it was definitely the best day of my life. Being able to sign you deal and to go right to the hospitalto see your kid being born. It’s crazy just how you can fall in love with something instantly and it’s definitely the best day or 48 hour span of my life,” Schwarber said.
Right when the lockout was lifted, The Phillies were on the phone to Schwarber’s agent.
“It was our first call. You’re doing so many different things at one time and we had a delegation of responsibilites becuase noboday could do everything, but I think it took Ned Rice three minutes after the negotiations to be on the phone with Casey Close and to tell him we wanted to pick up. We had conversations before the lockout, we had never reached a point of getting close to a deal even though we had talked,” Dombrowski said.
With the Designated Hitter now in the National League, Schwarber is wanting to play the field.
“I do enjoy playing the field, that’s something I take pride in. There’s people that do like to not forget things that probably happened out there for me, especially early in my career getting thrown right into it. That’s something that I do take pride in. I’ll be the first one to make fun of myself and whatever it is. But I do take pride in whatever I do out the field, especially on defense. I feel I improved tremendously. I know some numbers, metrics whatever don’t like it but it is what it is. I can go tell those things to kick rocks, right? I know what I can do out in the field but you know what? I’m sure there’s going plenty of times I’m going to be DH’ing too. I’ve had plenty of experience doing that well. So, whatever the team needs. That’s what I’m here for. I’m not here to slam feet down or whatever, and say I just strictly want to play the outfield, no. I’m going to do whatever I need to do to help this team win and put your trust in Joe here and make that decision, you ride and go.”
Being in a Hitter’s Ballpark
Schwarber is excited to hit at Citizens Bank Park.
“It’s a great place to hit, definitely a great place to hit. I don’t know, I think it’s something kind of there with the backdrop. You can see the ball very well there,” Schwarber said.
“It’s definitely gonna be a fun time to be a Phillie here these next four years. It’s not going to be easy right. Nothing is easy in this game. We can all say it, talk about it but we have to go there and do it. It’s not going to be easy, I’m sure there’s going to be adversity being faced down the line. Have to be able to adapt and overcome, right? It’s gonna be an exciting time,” Schwarber said.
Schwarber is the first of presumably two press conferences this week for the Phillies with Opening day just two weeks from Friday.
Photo by Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire