While major-league players typically are among the most notorious bachelors, several are opting to start families before free agency and watch their children become grown-ups before they’re retired.
Cubs second baseman Javy Baez, 25, is the latest, telling USA Today of his covert engagement to longtime girlfriend Irmarie Marquez last Wednesday. They plan to roll out their status officially this week.
‘‘I’m so excited,’’ said Baez, who announced in January that he and Irmarie are expecting a baby boy, due July 4. ‘‘It’s a big part of your life having a kid at a young age and teaching them the right way to live, while seeing their parents grow up, too. I can’t wait.’’
Baez is just the latest young Cubs star to be removed from Chicago’s list of most eligible bachelors. Third baseman Kris Bryant was married last year. First baseman Anthony Rizzo is getting married after the season. And catcher Willson Contreras announced his engagement in January.
‘‘This is pretty special, man,’’ said Baez, who hit two home runs in the Cubs’ 8-5 loss Tuesday to the Pirates at Wrigley Field. ‘‘I’ve always been a real family guy. I grew up with my mom, dad, brothers and sister and all my cousins. I loved having my family around.
‘‘It’s like it doesn’t matter what happens on the baseball field, your family is always there for you. That’s the most important thing for you in life. And now I’ll have my own wife and kids.’’
Baez, who has known Irmarie since seventh grade and started dating her six years later, said he always planned to marry her. They have talked about it for years. They have lived together in Chicago during the season and in Puerto Rico during the winter. A few months ago, they started seriously planning for it.
Baez consulted with online jeweler James Allen and began designing his own engagement ring, unbeknownst to Irmarie. He finally received the modified ring at the end of spring training.
The Cubs, who had been on the road since spring training began, finally stopped home for 24 hours last Wednesday between series in Cincinnati and Milwaukee. Baez and Irmarie spent that day in their apartment, and with Irmarie’s 27th birthday the next day, he decided it was time to pop the question.
‘‘We had talked about getting married in the past, but we always wanted to have our home and everything taken care of first,’’ Baez said. ‘‘Now, with the blessing of this baby, I just felt this was the perfect time.
‘‘Nobody knew about it. Nobody.’’
Baez sat patiently on the bed, waiting for Irmarie to come out of the shower, then blurted out, ‘‘Happy birthday.’’
Irmarie looked around, saw nothing in the room and wondered whether Baez had bought her a birthday present. Baez looked at her face, dropped to his knees and nervously popped the question.
‘‘She couldn’t stop crying,’’ Baez said. ‘‘Well, she started laughing at first and then started crying and crying and crying. And then started laughing at the same time.
‘‘When she said yes, we called her parents first. And then my mom and my brothers. We both started crying.’’
Baez boarded the Cubs’ bus the next day, reached base four times in an 8-0 victory against the Brewers and got a Little League-style inside-the-park homer Friday when he hit a triple and Eric Sogard’s throwing error bounced off his head.
He’s proud to say his head has been spinning ever since.
‘‘We’ll probably get married in December in Puerto Rico,’’ Baez said. ‘‘It won’t be a big wedding or anything, just family and a few friends. That’s all we want, something quiet.’’
For now, though, there’s a season to be played and a baby to be named.
‘‘That’s the only thing we’ve been arguing about,’’ Baez said, laughing. ‘‘I’ve got a few names. She’s got a few ideas. But we haven’t decided yet. Hopefully soon, but we’ve got a few months yet.
‘‘I can’t wait. It’s going to be a beautiful year.’’