Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

javier baez defenseChicago Cubs infielder Javier Baez returned to game action just shy of seven weeks after he fractured his left ring finger sliding into second base during an Iowa Cubs game – an Iowa Cubs game in which he was playing third base, was on a stretch of wrecking the ball, and appeared on the verge of a return to the big leagues.

Baez played for the AZL Cubs in the Arizona Rookie League last night, going 1-3 with a single, no walks and no strikeouts, and getting a ton of chances at shortstop.

Cubs Den’s John Arguello was there, and tweeted out a video:

Did you immediately notice what I did? Shortened his stride and his swing with two strikes. That’s the two-strike approach, and he was breaking it out in his first game on a rehab assignment in rookie ball. I like it.

You can see some of the other things he was working on before the injury, too: slightly more upright, less pre-swing movement, and he looks closer to the plate. He also busts his but to first base on that grounder – again, in a rehab game in rookie ball. I like it.

BN’er Spriggs was also at the game, and dropped into the comments last night that, while Baez looked a little tentative in his first couple swings, he was normal after that. Spriggs says Baez took good cuts, ran well, and looked to be in good shape.

First game down, and I’d call it a success. Hopefully, after a couple more games in Arizona, Baez will be ready to head back to Iowa. From there, I get pretty excited thinking about once again getting to see the improvements he was showing in his game before the injury. He’s got a big league glove, a big league makeup, big league baserunning skills, and, of course, big league power. The approach at the plate started to really look big league, too, in late-May, early-June. I know it’s possible yet that Baez becomes a trade chip for the Cubs, but I get quite a bit more tingly thinking about the possibility that he comes up to the big league team and contributes in a variety of ways down the stretch. The guy is just 22, and his ceiling – while admittedly tough for him to reach – might actually be higher than any other Cub. Given what we’ve seen this year, yes, I do recognize how crazy that is to say. But it’s true.

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