Javy Baez made his first start of 2016, one day after being activated from the 15-day disabled list.
Baez spelled Ben Zobrist at second base Saturday and will get two or three starts per week at different positions, Cubs manager Joe Maddon said.
Maddon wants to give Baez as much playing time as possible to develop his swing and his overall game — a challenge on a team that expects to contend and is already loaded with talent.
“He’s got a high-maintenance swing, and he’s young,” Maddon said. “So he needs to continue to play and get at-bats.
‘‘That’s the difficult part of doing all this is to nurture him along and still be with the team right now that has a chance to do something special this year. You’ve got to somehow attempt to balance that.”
The game featured a little bit of everything Cubs fans have come to know about Baez.
He doubled hard to right field, struck out swinging twice, made two nice plays at second — and one bad one — and beat out a dribbler toward third for a single in his first at-bat.
Baez showed tremendous range by snaring a ground ball up the middle in the second inning, then turned and rushed a throw to first that never had a chance of getting the out. He made amends by hustling out the infield single in the bottom of the inning.
Baez made the play of the game on Carlos Gonzalez’s hard grounder in the seventh inning. He made a diving stop and a clean throw to first for the first out.
“He definitely belongs here,” Maddon said. “He knows he belongs here.
‘‘We just need to get him the appropriate number of reps out there so that he maintains all his skills.”
No losing streaks
The Cubs have yet to experience a losing streak in 2016.
After rebounding from Friday’s home loss to the Colorado Rockies, the Cubs are one of only four teams in the majors that haven’t lost consecutive games.
The White Sox, Kansas City Royals and Washington Nationals are the only other teams without back-to-back losses.
“We’re going to be hard to contain for more than a game or two at a time,” said Jake Arrieta, the winning pitcher. “We like our chances to stop skids pretty early.”
Szczur right at home
Maddon praised outfielder Matt Szczur before giving the former Villanova star his second start of the season.
Szczur has appeared in nine games, typically as a defensive replacement, and picked up five hits in 13 at-bats. He singled, walked and scored Saturday.
Maddon said Szczur’s production is due mostly to his getting comfortable in the majors.
“What you’re seeing now is what he was doing in the minor leagues,” Maddon said. “I’ve talked about it before. I think he’s finally getting comfortable here.
‘‘If you watch him in batting practice, there’s more of a tension-free approach to his game. It’s not uptight. That’s the difference.”
Szczur played 70 games at Class AAA Iowa last season, hitting .292 with 31 home runs.
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