MESA, Ariz. – Halfway through the spring schedule, Cubs second baseman Javy Baez is in jeopardy of opening the season at AAA Iowa if he doesn’t put together a strong two-week finish to camp.
“The thing that’s lagging a bit is just the adjustment at the plate,” manager Joe Maddon said. “He shows signs of brilliance at times. To this point he’s had a lot of good at-bats. He’s hit some balls hard. And then he’ll show the one, the out-of-control swing that bothers him a little bit – and I think it bothers the fans more than it bothers me. It’s just a young guy trying to figure this all out.”
Baez, who struck out at a record pace after an Aug. 5 debut last season, hit just .169 with nine homers in 52 big-league games last summer.
He’s just 3-for-30 (.100) this spring with a homer, a walk and 10 strikeouts – four of the K’s coming in Thursday night’s loss to the Diamondbacks. He drew his first walk of the spring in that game.
Asked before Thursday night’s game if there’s a chance Baez doesn’t make the club out of camp, Maddon said, “Of course there is. There’s no lock in regard to that. I have talked about the entitlement program. It doesn’t exist. Everything has to be earned, especially, obviously, with the young guys [without big-league track records].”
Newly acquired Tommy La Stella has looked good this spring at the plate and in the field at both second and third.
Maddon, who earlier in camp said Baez was getting too much information from the staff, still seems to be allowing the power prospect to mostly try to find his own way with his big, violent swing.
“Of course he needs to get better. Of course he needs to make some adjustments,” Maddon, a former hitting coach, said. “But I don’t like to force or push things right now with a guy like that. Who knows? Maybe eventually he can figure that out and the swing that he has might become pertinent and he’s able to utilize it. I don’t know that.
“I do know I like him as a baseball player and he’s going to be a very good major-league baseball player.
“Once he figures out the command of his swing, he’ll just take off.”