After a little warm-up time at extended Spring Training, Chicago Cubs infielder Javier Baez is ready to return to minor league action:
Iowa manager Marty Pevey said that Baez is at the airport and on his way to the park. Is in the lineup hitting 3rd and playing 2B. #Cubs
— Tommy Birch (@TommyBirch) April 30, 2015
The Iowa Cubs play at 6:38pm CT tonight, so there’s your baseball game to watch with the big league team off.
Baez, 22, struggled with serious swing-and-miss and pitch recognition issues in his big league debut late last year, and, after working on the issues in Winter Ball and in Spring Training, the Cubs decided that the best course of action for Baez’s development was to head back to AAA Iowa to keep working on his offense. At the time, it seemed like a very close call, because the rest of Baez’s game – defense, baserunner, baseball awareness – is so strong that he may have been able to help the Cubs win games even if he wasn’t hitting. And, as we’ve seen, the Cubs haven’t gotten much offense at second base anyway, so that probably would have been true. But it probably wouldn’t have been best for Baez’s long-term future.
Unfortunately, just as Baez was to head to Iowa, his sister passed away. He took some time with his family to grieve, and now he’ll return to baseball – hopefully something of a sanctuary for him – and work toward returning to the big leagues. Theo Epstein has said that Baez will primarily play second base, with an occasional start at shortstop.
Addison Russell is now up with the big league team playing second base, so it’s an open question what will happen with these guys, positionally-speaking, down the road. For now, it’s not really a concern, as Baez will likely need significant time at Iowa to work on substantial changes to his swing and approach. It may require patience.
And it starts tonight. I look forward to seeing Baez back in action.