DENVER — Cubs infielder Javy Baez hit another home run and added a difference-making two-run double Sunday and likely secured the National League Player of the Week award.
But long after the Cubs’ 9-7 win over the Rockies on Sunday, he still seemed only to have his angry encounter with Colorado’s DJ LeMahieu on his mind after improvising to keep LeMahieu from stealing the catcher’s signs while standing on second base in the third inning.
“We’ve got to protect our team, our pitchers,” said Baez, who tried to block LeMahieu’s view between pitches once he saw LeMahieu signaling to hitter Nolan Arenado, then retreated to his shortstop position. “If you’ve got to do something else, I will do it. This game is hard enough.
“A lot of teams do it, but don’t do it to our face. Because we’re going to do something about it. I don’t care who it is. I don’t care what the result is. … If they don’t like it, oh, well. It’s our team, and we’re going to do anything for our team.”
The sequence delayed the game briefly after Arenado struck out and Baez shouted to the outfielders about the difference it makes when they don’t know the signs.
That’s when he and LeMahieu had words and the umpire stepped in briefly.
“We’re always talking about this technological method of stealing signs. That was old-school right there,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “They’re trying to give the location or signs, and Javy’s blocking. I loved it. I’ve never seen that before.
“And you may see that more often. It’ll be bothersome. It may evoke some conversations between players on offense and defense. And you have to be of the ilk like Javy is that he was not scared or afraid to do it. … It was pretty cool stuff.”
Baez said it was the first time he attempted to block a player from doing that, and only one other time, in the World Baseball Classic, did he encounter an opponent being as obvious as LeMahieu.
Baez said the umpire only told him he must get out of the way once the pitch is released.
“Which is what I was doing,” Baez said. “I don’t know why he was so hyper saying that, but you know, it didn’t get me out of my game. I don’t know if it did to them.”
Baez said after he shouted to the outfield, LeMahieu told him, “Then change the signs.”
At which point Baez got angrier.
“You’re telling me to my face that you’re giving the signs?” Baez said. “Come on, man. I’m really mad about it. But I’m really smart. So whatever.
“We won the game. And the series.”