Javier Baez reported to the Iowa Cubs on Thursday afternoon and played in his first game of the season on the last day of April. Baez was in the starting lineup, batted third and played second base.
Javier Baez went 1-for-6 with a double and three strikeouts in Iowa’s 4-2 loss in 13 innings to Oklahoma City. Baez doubled to left center leading off the sixth but flied out to center to end the game with Matt Szczur on first base. Two of Baez’s three strikeouts Thursday night were swinging.
According to reports from the Des Moines Register, Baez’s teammates are happy he is back with the team. Marty Pevey said the team will help Baez as much as they can as he gets back to baseball following the death of his sister.
The Cubs have not put a timeframe on when Baez could be called back up to the majors. Joe Maddon pushed for Baez to break camp with the team but in the end the decision was made that it was best for him to work on the adjustments he needs to make at the plate at Triple-A, not in the majors.
With Baez missing a majority of the month, it is going to take him time to get back to where he was in Spring Training and work on his approach. Manny Ramirez was not with the Iowa Cubs on Thursday. But Ramirez, who was at Wrigley Field during the series with the Pirates, should be sent to Iowa to spend time with Baez.
Jason McLeod recently discussed on MLB Network Radio what the Cubs plans are for Baez going forward and what he needs to work on when he returned to Iowa.
“This whole off-season there was a lot of discussion with him about the approach. He went down to Puerto Rico and went in to Spring Training and the numbers weren’t there for Javy, but the work ethic was. And then this unfortunately happened with his sister passing away. He’s just had a lot on his mind, certainly both on and off the field.”
“It’s been a pretty trying time for him and certainly we, as an organization, are here to support him and continue to work with him on the on-field things as well as off-field stuff,” McLeod said. “More than anything he has been working his tail off, the reports have come back very good and we’re just looking forward to seeing him between the lines again, enjoying his teammates in Iowa and starting to play again.”
“I think more than anything it’s just simplifying it and understanding the ability that he has and the bat speed that he has and the fact that this is a player who can the ball out to any part of the park with ease and that it doesn’t have to be 550-foot home runs that 400-foot home runs count, too.”
“It’s just slowing things down when he gets into the box because his work ethic, like I said, is tremendous and he can do anything you ask him to do in BP [batting practice] in terms of how high the leg kick might be or the effort level in the swing,” McLeod said. “When the game starts that motor gets going a little higher at the plate, you don’t see it in the field, he really slows the game down defensively, on the base paths, all of that. But at the plate it starts, the motor gets revved up a little bit and the effort level is high and then you see some of those big, wild swings.”
“That’s really it, it’s the mindset in the batter’s box, slow things down and understand how good he is and that he can take any pitch in any part of the zone and hit hard to all fields.”
The Cubs have a support system in place for Javier Baez. Like Joe Maddon said, hopefully Baez will be able to put an incredibly hard time in his life behind him and focus on getting his career back on track.