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Nate Schierholtz isn't trade chip anymore

CHICAGO -- It wasn’t supposed to happen this way for Chicago Cubs right fielder Nate Schierholtz.

Coming off a career year -– and entering his free-agency season -– Schierholtz either was going to parlay another good six months into a multiyear deal or at least be traded to a contender by this Thursday’s trade deadline. Now, neither is likely.

“Why waste my time worrying?” Schierholtz said Tuesday before taking the field against the Colorado Rockies. “Obviously this year hasn’t worked out how it could have. I don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Schierholtz was a sure-thing trade chip for the Cubs when the season started. He’s a left-handed bat about to go to free agency for the first time in his career. The Cubs have no need for a 30-year-old outfielder with those credentials.

But then the season started and nothing went right.

“I started tinkering with my swing,” he said. “Trying too hard. Trying to do more than last year. I put too much pressure on myself. It was a big learning experience."

His batting average hovered just above .200 for most of the season, and is down to .198 after an 0-for-7 game on Tuesday. His power, which produced a career-high 21 home runs in 2013, has been nearly nonexistent. He has six home runs this season.

“Was trying to make up for a month every day,” Schierholtz said. “I put a lot of pressure on myself sometimes. It went downhill. Just working to get back to how I felt last year. That’s been my goal.”

Schierholtz could still be moved, of course. A team would have to hope a change of scenery makes the difference or hope for a return to 2013 form somehow.

He’ll inevitably be put through waivers next month, as well. A team could get him for nothing at that point.

“In spite of the nonproduction he still gives you as good an at-bat as he can,” said Cubs manager Rick Renteria. “We’ll just keep allowing him to have opportunities to play, and we’ll see if he can find his way out of this little rut.”

Schierholtz isn’t sure how he got to this point and, frankly, he’d rather forget about most of it. It’s been that bad.

“Maybe a combination of things, but a slow start didn’t help,” he said. “It is what it is; can’t wear out thinking about it. But I think I’ve learned from it.

“I’ve moved on from all that. Too much thinking sometimes.”