Fake fans are chanting his name at Wrigley, but will Javy Baez be the Cubs’ top priority?
The sound — “Javy! Javy!” — reminds us there’s one player on this team of well-known names whose boundless talent just might set him apart from everybody else.
Fake news! Sorry, meant to say fake noise.
Or, to put it a different way, the Cubs are busy spewing alternative yaks.
Like a lot of other teams around the major leagues, the Cubs have people working hard at their home ballpark on how to create — with no fans in the seats — something vaguely resembling a normal game-day environment. The routine sound of a buzzing crowd is being piped over the public-address system during intrasquad scrimmages. Walk-up songs are playing. The huge videoboard in left field has come somewhat alive with a handful of basic functions.
And then there’s the sound that reminds us there’s one player on this team of well-known names whose boundless talent just might set him apart from everybody else.
He’s the one whose name the pretend crowd has been chanting.
‘‘Javy! Javy! Javy!’’
‘‘It was kind of funny to me,’’ shortstop Javy Baez said. ‘‘You know, the sound was kind of weird to be playing with, but, you know, we’re obviously used to the sound of the fans and the crowd. So, as long as it’s similar, we’re OK with it. But we need something that doesn’t bother us.’’
Imagine being so good that you can quibble with the sound of your name being chanted.
Baez, a 27-year-old two-time-All-Star, met Thursday with reporters, via video conference, for the first time since spring training was shut down in Arizona in March. He discussed how he stayed ready for the restart, how he’s handling the demands of health-and-safety protocols on and off the field and how much starting a season in the blistering heat suits him.
He also addressed what happens after 2021, the final season Baez will be under team control. Will the Cubs do what it takes to hold on to one of the most dynamic players in the sport and find out just how far he can take what to this point has been continuous improvement?
General manager Jed Hoyer said this week it will be difficult for the Cubs to talk dollars and cents with third baseman Kris Bryant, Baez or anyone else at such a complicated moment — and with so much economic uncertainty — in baseball.
‘‘Obviously, everybody wants to get paid,’’ Baez said. ‘‘But we’ve got to wait for the right time. Both sides are going to see and going to know what’s right for each other. I’m not in a rush. I’m right now worried about getting back to the field and playing regular games and, obviously, trying to win this season.”
On that front, the mercury is rising and Baez, no fan of the cold (though what baseball player is?), is loving it.
‘‘When we talk about weather, we’re talking Spanish with me because I’m coming from the hot,’’ he said. ‘‘I obviously like being hot.’’
As far out in front of some other Cubs hitters as Baez has looked so far in camp, it’s easy to let the mind wander to how hot he could get in a 60-game sprint of a regular season. He came in ready, thanks in part to the regular rounds of live batting practice he took with Twins All-Star Jose Berrios — his brother-in-law — while quarantining in Puerto Rico.
By the way, Baez also donned the tools of ignorance and caught Berrios a time or two.
‘‘It was great,’’ he said. ‘‘I thought it was going to be harder. It was simple. Not simple, but catching the ball wasn’t that hard.’’
Imagine being so talented that you can crouch behind the plate and make it look like you’ve been doing it your whole life.
That’s just how unusual Baez is. This is one guy the Cubs aren’t going to be able to keep at arm’s length for long without inviting heavy criticism.
‘‘They know me,’’ Baez said. ‘‘I’m pretty sure every team knows me. They all know what I can do. So I’m not in a rush.’’