MESA, Ariz. – An especially strong game in center field by infielder-by-trade Javy Baez in Saturday’s late-night game still had manager Joe Maddon buzzing about it Sunday.
“There were some tough plays out there in center field,” Maddon said. I thought some of those balls were going to be over the wall when they left the bat. But he went back well on the baseball.
“I have no concern with him on defense at all, at any position,” added Maddon, who has started Baez at first base, second, shortstop and center field this spring. He’s just a good baseball player.
“He’s a really good athlete. He’s got a calmness about his play. All that stuff’s there.”
On Saturday night, on a dimly lit field in Goodyear, Ariz., against the Indians, Baez went a long way for an over-the-shoulder catch of a Michael Brantley drive at the warning track in the first inning, went even farther in the fourth to track down a Yan Gomes drive and in between threw out Will Venable from right-center at second trying to stretch a single.
By Sunday, Baez came off the bench to play short against the Royals.
“I think his at-bats have been a little bit more mature this camp, and defensively he’s been all over the place,” Maddon said of perhaps the most important player on his bench. “He’s made great plays in center, first base, up the middle. He’s actually had a pretty good camp.”