The Chicago Cubs offense hasn't been what it was expected to be so far in the 2017 season, scoring an average of only 4.6 runs per game.
In fact, their total of 396 runs scored currently ranks 17th in all of Major League Baseball - a disappointing position when you consider some of the talented sluggers on their roster.
Therefore, on Thursday, the defending World Series champions made a move that they hope will inject some new life into their offense.
According to MLB.com, the Cubs recalled slugger Kyle Schwarber from triple-A Iowa to rejoin the big-league club on Thursday after Schwarber had spent some time in the minors to regain his confidence at the plate:
"He's done a real nice job, made a few adjustments, mainly with his approach," Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said. "This was more about a reset for him than it was about rebuilding. In the couple weeks he was down there, he accomplished what we wanted him to accomplish."
Indeed, Schwarber's bat was strong in Iowa, as he hit .343 with four home runs and a double in 11 games. Now, he's back in Chicago, where he'll work to improve his currently dreadful .171 MLB average.
Schwarber said one particular recent at-bat signaled to him that he was ready to give the big leagues another shot:
"We were in Iowa, and facing a lefty and I stayed on a pitch left-center, and I feel that was the big thing for me - being able to stay on that pitch and drive it to left-center," Schwarber said. "That was my overall message, to use the middle of the field better. I felt that throughout the whole process. Right, left, whoever was pitching, I wanted to focus on that."
If he can resume some of his 2015 form, the Cubs' offense should greatly improve over the second half of the season.
Schwarber made his return to the Cubs' lineup against the Milwaukee Brewers on Thursday at Wrigley Field, where he batted in the No. 5 spot in the order instead of the leadoff spot where he hit for most of the first part of the season.
The early results weren't promising, as Schwarber went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in his first game back in Chicago. It wasn't all bad news, though, as Schwarber did face a team-high 23 pitches in his four at-bats, so he may at least be seeing the ball better this time around.
The Cubs lost to the Brewers 11-2, falling to 42-43 on the season. They now trail Milwaukee by 4.5 games in the National League Central division, as the Brewers sport a 48-40 overall mark.