One of the goals for Javier Baez in Winter Ball was to get experience in center field. Baez played four games in center for Santurce and received positive reviews for his limited time in the outfield.
Jed Hoyer said Friday that Baez will see time in the outfield in Spring Training. Hoyer said on 670 The Score, “Javy looked really good in Puerto Rico playing center field … obviously a small sample size and obviously he has things to work on. But we’ll be experimenting with him in the outfield quite a bit. The more he can more around the diamond, the more he can help us.”
Joe Maddon is confident Javier Baez can handle center field defensively. The Cubs will have to wait and see on the offensive side Maddon said during the Convention. Baez is one of the best on-field defenders Maddon has ever seen. He’s never in trouble. He’s always very calm. Baez has a spectacular arm and really high baseball acumen. Maddon likes it when guys go play Winter Ball because it helps a player process the moment in advance. And that’s what Baez does.
According to Comcast SportsNet, Baez had fun playing in the outfield and looks forward to playing center field in Spring Training.
Javier Baez revealed during the Convention that when he was recalled in September, Joe Maddon told him, “Try not to suck.”
Maddon is a big supporter of Baez because of what he brings to the table defensively and on the bases. Maddon wanted him to break camp with the team last spring, but was not able to persuade the front office from sending him down.
When Baez returned after the roster expanded, he looked like a different player at the plate. Baez picked up where he left off with Triple-A Iowa and batted .289/.325/.408 in 28 games with six doubles and a home run for a .733 OPS. Baez walked four times with 24 strikeouts in 80 plate appearances. Baez saw playing time at shortstop, first, second and third base.
In the playoffs, Baez delivered the big fly in Game 4 of the NLDS. Baez hit a three-run homer off now teammate John Lackey. Baez turned a 2-1 deficit to a 4-2 Cubs lead with a shot into the bleachers in right center. Baez was 5-for-15 in six postseason games with one home run.
According to Carrie Muskat, Baez will play only one more game for Santurce before taking a small break prior to reporting to Spring Training. Position players report to Mesa on Feb. 23 with the first full-squad workout scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 24.
Javier Baez does not care where he plays in the field. Baez wants to be in the lineup every day.
With the way the Cubs’ 40-man roster is currently constructed, Baez will be in the outfield mix with Jason Heyward, Kyle Schwarber, Jorge Soler, Chris Coghlan, Matt Szczur and Arismendy Alcantara when Spring Training starts. Ben Zobrist and Kris Bryant will also get reps in the outfield as well as non-roster invitee Juan Perez.