Javier Baez is soon to be back in action, albeit in Des Moines with the AAA Iowa Cubs.
If you recall, Baez was originally slowed this Spring after jamming his left thumb on a head first slide (into first base … in a Cactus League game). Then, as he was ramping back up for a return to the majors, he was hit in the ear flap by a pitch in extended Spring Training.
That injury, although not serious in nature, kept him out of the lineup for a few days and pushed his expected return date back even further.
His absence muddied up the roster picture quite a bit, but it did provide the Cubs with some extra time to make a decision on Matt Szczur, who remains on the roster (without any remaining options) today. Now, with Kyle Schwarber out for the year, Baez’s eventual return might not make things quite as tricky.
Originally, you’ll note, Baez was expected to return to the Cubs for today’s home opener against the Reds, but, unfortunately, he missed too much time to jump right back in against Major League pitching.
So, off to Iowa he’ll go to recapture his timing, but I wouldn’t expect him to be there for long. Unlike last season, Baez is opening the year out in AAA Iowa on a Major League rehab assignment (not, in other words, a demotion to the minors). The expectation is that he’ll stay in Iowa for just a few days – possibly, a week – before rejoining the team in Chicago, as soon as he’s ready.
Iowa Manager Matt Pevey echoed that sentiment in the Des Moines Register: “As far as I know, he’s going to be here (Monday) and then from there, I don’t know how long he’ll be here. It might be a day. It might be four days.”
If the plan was to keep Baez in Iowa for any extended period of time, I think it’s fair to guess that Pevey would have been informed and would not have made comments indicating the likelihood of an expectedly short stay. Of course, the amount of time Baez ultimately spends in Iowa will depend mostly on him. If he looks good and feels healthy, he’ll get the call back up. Likewise, if he needs more time, expect him to get it.
At some point this year, Baez *will* help out the Chicago Cubs – and, with Kyle Schwarber out for the season, his expected role has certainly expanded – but there’s no point in rushing him back for the sake of speed. For now, Munenori Kawasaki has done a fine job in his place (he’s already 1-1 with a stolen base, for crying out loud!), and I expect that to continue until a roster move is made.