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Cubs’ Javy Baez embraces national spotlight, and he is deserving of it

Chicago Cubs' Javier Baez (9) after he hit a home run during the eighth inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals Saturday, May 4, 2019, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Matt Marton) ORG XMIT: CXC122

Joe Maddon didn’t say yes. But he didn’t say no.

Instead, he let out a sigh as he pondered the question: Has Javy Baez become the best player on the Cubs?

“Based on what he did last year and what he’s doing right now, it’s hard to argue against the ascension he’s made within the group,” Maddon said. “He’s one of the best players in the game. … Write down 10 other names that can impact a game like he can in either league.”

The spotlight on Baez shined even brighter in front of a national television audience Sunday night. ESPN filmed a segment in which Baez and current analyst Alex Rodriguez walked through Wrigley Field and spoke about the player’s star trajectory.

The 26-year-old Baez said would like to spend his entire career with the Cubs. He also said he was determined to improve upon last season even though he hit .290 with 34 homers, 111 RBIs and 21 stolen bases and earned his first All-Star nod.

“Last year, I had a great year but in the second half I felt a little tired,” Baez said to Rodriguez. “A lot of people didn’t see it, but every day I came to the field and Joe was like, ‘Are you good? Are you ready to play?’ Obviously, I’m never going to say no.”

Maddon said Baez deserves all the positive attention he is getting.

“The thing you don’t see – you don’t see his work ethic,” Maddon said. “You don’t hear him in the dugout. You don’t see all the little things that he does. This guy, he’s playing baseball like he was 12 on a sandlot in Bayamon, (Puerto Rico). That’s what he’s doing, and he’s having a blast. But he’s doing it at a high mental level that everybody else appreciates, too.”

Pajama party

You might think Taylor Davis had a hard time getting to sleep the night after clubbing his first career home run – a grand slam, no less.

You would be wrong.

“I actually got to sleep pretty early,” Davis, 29, said with a laugh. “Me and my wife are like grandparents.”

Has Davis always been an old man in disguise?

“Yes, always,” he said. “We bed our two dogs, we drink our tea at night and we go to bed.”

The main difference this time was a slew of congratulatory text messages and newfound fame on social media, where he estimated that he gained 4,000 followers on his Instagram account. His latest photo shows him dropping his bat and looking up toward his grand slam.

On the mend

Victor Caratini took batting practice on the field for the first time since undergoing surgery to repair a broken hamate bone in his left hand.

Three weeks have passed since surgery for Caratini, who hit .571 (8-for-14) with a homer and five RBIs in his first six games before the injury. The 25-year-old initially was projected to miss 4-6 weeks, and that timetable remains intact.

Reliever Xavier Cedeno (left wrist) pitched one-third of an inning for Class AAA Iowa. He is slated to pitch again Monday.