Javier Baez is working to make his second Cubs stint better than the first. At the same time, he has to adjust to a part-time role he hasn’t had much in his career.
Well, he might not have to get used to the part-time thing.
Because manager Joe Maddon liked the matchup against Arizona right-handed starter Zack Godley, Baez was in the starting lineup at second base. Maddon said Tommy La Stella would normally start against a righty and Starlin Castro would play against a lefty, but went away from that Friday.
Still, it’s part of an adjustment for Baez.
“It’s different, because (Baez is) used to playing every day when he plays. It’s a little bit different for him. There’s no question,” Maddon said. “But this is a different moment for a lot of our guys. When you’re in September, you have a really solid chance to go to the playoffs it’s not about anybody right now. It’s about the Cubs, and that’s what guys have to get used to right now.”
But Maddon might have given a pretty strong hint about Baez’s future.
“Moving forward, he’s going to be an everyday player, there’s no question,” Maddon said. “As we move this thing into next year and the year after you’ll see him playing on a consistent basis, but for right now he has to figure out how to be ready sporadically sometimes, even in-game with switches that can occur.”
At least for now, Baez is part of a rotating cast of characters. Because of his versatility, he could play all over the field.
Maddon also said “you could see” Castro at second, Baez at third and Kris Bryant in right field against left-handed pitchers. Kyle Schwarber’s absence could also “exaggerate” those things, Maddon said.
As for second base, well, it doesn’t seem like there’s a completely settled depth chart.
“The depth chart is kind of like this… all these guys their faces are on second base and it’s just trying to pick the best matchup for that pitcher that night,” Maddon said.
If it ain’t broke…
Jake Arrieta will make his first start Saturday since no-hitting the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday night. And for Maddon, there isn’t much to say to Arrieta, who went 6-0 with an 0.43 ERA in August.
“Honestly man, I don’t say anything. I know I can only mess somebody’s head up,” Maddon said. “When somebody’s going well, I really almost refrain from having a conversation with that person, because I could only mess them up. ‘I can’t help you. I cannot help you.’
“He’s a big boy, he knows what he’s doing. Nobody works better than he does. Hopefully he’ll pitch a very similar kind of a game and we’ll come out on top. I really refrain from those conversations.”
Arrieta has a chance – albeit a remote one – to become the second pitcher in baseball history and the first since Cincinnati’s Johnny Vander Meer in 1938 to throw consecutive no-hitters.
Tids and bits
Maddon said minor leaguer Carl Edwards Jr. is in the mix for a call-up and spot in the bullpen. Edwards (blister) was activated off the disabled list Thursday. He’s 3-1 with a 2.93 ERA in 22 appearances at Iowa.
The Arizona battery was made up of former Cubs. Catcher Welington Castillo spent parts of six years with the Cubs before being traded in May to Seattle. Godley was part of the deal that netted the Cubs Miguel Montero from the Diamondbacks.