Javier Baez played his fourth game of the year Sunday and had his best day at the plate.
Baez started at second base and hit clean up in Iowa’s 7-3 victory over Oklahoma City. Baez went 3-for-5 with a double, a home run, two RBI and a strikeout. Baez has hit safely in three of the four games he has played in after missing all but one day of the first month of the season.
Javier Baez is 5-for-19 with two doubles, a home run and five strikeouts (.263/.263/.526) for a .789 OPS playing both second base and shortstop for Marty Pevey.
The Des Moines Register talked to Iowa’s hitting coach, Brian Harper, about Baez. And he had some encouraging words about the slugger. Harper told Tommy Birch, “He’s slowing everything down. He’s not overswinging.”
Baez has not been able to carry over the work he does in the cages and in batting practice to the games. Baez has allowed the game to speed up on him in the batter’s box, but not in the field. And that’s when he has reverted back to the old habits that have not produced results, just a lot of big, out of control swings and misses.
Bran Harper added, “If Javy learns to put the ball in play more and be more consistent with his hitting, he’s a big league superstar.” Tommy Birch has noticed a difference in Baez after only four games with the team. And his view on Baez’s attitude matches with reports from Spring Training that indicated Baez showed a maturity this spring that was not there the previous year.
The front office met with Baez before he was optioned to Triple-A Iowa toward the end of Spring Training. Baez knows what he has to work on and the changes he has to make to his approach before he will be called back up to the majors. Baez told the Des Moines Register he is “working on some stuff and hopefully everything can keep coming back where it needs to be.” Baez realizes he must make changes to his approach at the plate. And he’s been working on “staying quiet and shortening his swing” according to Marty Pevey.
The Cubs have not talked to Baez about playing another position. Baez is expected to split time at second base and shortstop with the Iowa Cubs. Theo Epstein said last week that the outfield is not an option for Baez. The front office is not concerned about where he will fit in defensively once he is ready to be called back up.
“We have a lot of guys with a lot of versatility,” Epstein said. “Given that, there is ability for all our core guys to fit on the field at the same time, if we get to the point where they’re all up here together. That’s thinking really far into the future. That’s thinking too far ahead.”
Javier Baez is going to need time at Triple-A to sort out the changes and make adjustments. And every day his strikeout rate drops and walk rate increases will benefit the Cubs in the long run.