Javier Baez has played 80 games in the big leagues and 393 games in the minors, all in the infield either at shortstop, second base, third base and there was even a game at first last season. Baez played four games in center field during his time in winter ball with Santurce, his first game action in the outfield since high school.
Pitchers do not have to report to camp until Friday and position players do not have to be in Mesa until Tuesday. Javier Baez, along with a majority of the Cubs’ Spring Training roster based on multiple reports, is already practicing ahead of the first full-squad workout on Feb. 24.
Baez worked with the outfielders Tuesday. Baez participated in outfield drills with Kyle Schwarber, Albert Almora Jr. and Shawon Dunston Jr. shagging fly balls and making leaping catches, like the one Tim Sheridan caught on video.
Carrie Muskat talked to Baez after practice and said he’s pretty sure he will be moving around the field when the games start, rotating between the infield and outfield.
Baez said he has also been taking groundballs in the infield so he’s “ready for whatever” is asked of him.
In order to start the season on the big league roster not only will he have to pick-up where he left off last season at the plate, Baez is going to have to continue playing solid defense at multiple positions. Baez is a favorite of Joe Maddon, the Cubs skipper wanted him on the team last year on Opening Night. Baez struggled to make contact last spring and the front office felt it was better for his development to go to Iowa and work on making adjustments.
When he was recalled in September, Baez had a better approach at the plate. In 28 games, Javier Baez was 22-for-76 with six doubles and a home run with four walks and 24 strikeouts (.289/.325/.408) for a .733 OPS. A 30 percent strikeout rate is still high but much better that the 41.5 percent strikeout rate he had in 2014.
Javier Baez could play a big role for the Cubs during the upcoming season … that is if he can embrace the utility role and stays with the team for the entire year.