Schwarber launches 'Neighborhood Heroes'

Campaign recognizes police officers, firefighters and veterans

Schwarber launches 'Neighborhood Heroes'

CHICAGO -- Kyle Schwarber's father is a police chief, his mother is a nurse and his sister is in the National Guard. On Wednesday he launched "Neighborhood Heroes," a campaign designed to recognize first responders and honor their heroism, courage and devotion to duty.

Schwarber invited police officers from the Chicago Police Merit Awards, firefighters from Engine 78 (which is located across Waveland Avenue from Wrigley Field) and veterans from a group called Mission Continues.

"I just wanted to do something special for you guys -- you deserve it," Schwarber told the group.

Don Meeks, commander of VFW Post 2024 on the south side of Chicago, was one of the 45 invited to Wrigley.

"This is encouraging," said Meeks, who spent 21 years in the Navy and served in Vietnam. "To come to 2017, and have a player like Mr. Schwarber reach out to the veterans, it means a lot."

• The Cubs added an arm to the bullpen on Wednesday, recalling right-hander Pierce Johnson from Triple-A Iowa. Johnson, who was selected 43rd overall in the 2012 Draft, went 2-0 with a 3.21 ERA in 12 outings with Iowa this season, striking out 21 over 14 innings. To make room for him on the roster, infielder Jeimer Candelario was optioned to Iowa. Candelario went 3-for-21 in six big league games with the Cubs.

The move gives the Cubs eight relievers.

• Although fans most likely enjoyed Ian Happ's first home run at Wrigley Field on Tuesday night, Cubs manager Joe Maddon was more pleased with Happ's bases-loaded walk in the sixth inning. The Reds had intentionally walked Anthony Rizzo to load the bases and face Happ; Maddon said the natural expectation was that the rookie would have expanded the strike zone, but he didn't, and he collected an RBI in the 9-5 win.

Happ's bases-loaded walk

"[The walk] was much more impressive to me than the home run," Maddon said. "If he can maintain that level of poise, there's no telling what he can do."

Though Happ has played second base and the outfield, Maddon doesn't feel the need to see Happ at second. So far he's started in right and center field.

"He definitely was making great strides [playing second]," Maddon said. "What I'm seeing right now is an interesting all-over-the-map kind of guy. As long as he can handle it mentally -- not unlike [Kris Bryant]. Now's the time to do it. If you wait a couple years and ask them to start moving around, that's when it becomes more difficult. When you do it when they're young, it becomes part of their landscape."

Brett Anderson, on the disabled list with a strained back, played catch for the second day on Tuesday. He is working toward throwing a bullpen session.

Jason Heyward, on the DL with a sprained right index finger, is to begin a rehab assignment at Class A South Bend on Thursday. Maddon said that Heyward did well in batting practice on Wednesday and that they'll re-evaluate Heyward after he plays on Thursday.

"He'll know post-game if he's ready to come back, [or if he wants] one more game," Maddon said.

• If Schwarber's 462-foot home run on Tuesday was the longest of his career, what were the previous long-distance bombs? Here's the next four, from Statcast™:

1. 459 ft., Oct. 17, 2015, NLCS Game 1, at New York
2. 448 ft., Sept. 11, 2015, at Philadelphia
3. 434 ft., Aug. 13, 2015, vs. Milwaukee
4. 432 ft., Sept. 1, 2015, vs. Cincinnati

For those of you who are curious, the home run Schwarber sent to the top of the video scoreboard in Game 4 of the National League Division Series on Oct. 13, 2015, was measured at 419 feet.

Schwarber's towering solo homer

• After picking up his 1,000th career win on Tuesday night, Maddon received numerous text messages, including one from Joe Namath, whom he met in Spring Training while with the Rays.

Maddon earns win No. 1,000

To commemorate the milestone, Maddon's Respect 90 Foundation will donate 1,000 meals to homeless children and families at both the Salvation Army Evangeline Booth Lodge in Chicago and Sallie House in St. Petersburg, Fla.

The Salvation Army Evangeline Booth Lodge is a haven for families that are homeless because of eviction, disasters, domestic violence or other crises. Also under the direction of the Salvation Army, Sallie House is a safe haven for children, infants to 17, who have been removed from their homes because of abuse, neglect or abandonment.

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.